Analog Work Visualization In a Digital Age
Through my Agile journey, I’ve been constantly amazed by the number of companies that are still visualizing work in an analog fashion. From sticky notes to index cards taped across a wall or white board, the era of arts and crafts seems far from over. The ever flowing need for scrap booking like supplies can create challenges around being prepared for daily stand ups or other ceremonies. Some Scrum Masters overcome this obstacle by throwing these materials into a box, carrying them around loosely, or even go as far as to tote around a toolbox. I have even seen a suitcase on wheels.
During my first go at being a Scrum Master, I was within a location that boasted a large flat complex spanning a quarter mile from end to end. Conference rooms were hard to find and my desk seemed miles away from the rest of the team. I was forced to haul my supplies all over the complex. I started using the box method but it was hard to keep organized and it was pretty heavy to take on the 1/2 mile round trip. After a month I was sick of the box and I picked up a rolling tool chest. I tricked it out with all my supplies and even added a projector on it to eliminate some of the conference room issues. We started what we called “gorilla grooming” in some of the back halls that were less traveled. People would stare as I rolled this apparatus around, but it worked well for me.
Eventually, I moved on to a new stop on my journey and the location was a high rise. I brought the rolling tool chest (now dubbed as “The Flag.”) This title payed homage to the aircraft carrier from the 80’s GI JOE line. The Flag continued to be a faithful workhorse. Over time, the tight and overcrowded elevator became an issue. The Flag was too big and it made it tough to enter an elevator. The Flag was retired and replaced with a smaller multi-drawer tool box, folding box dolly, and a TV dinner tray table. It was a home run. It solved my elevator problems and still allowed for the “gorilla grooming” our team had come to embrace . To use it, all 3 components were put together to form the projector base. The team dubbed it the Devastator. Much like “The Flag”, this name also came from an 80’s inspiration. This was a term that described Transformers created by merging all of the Constructicons.
Fast forward 2 more stops on my Agile journey and a new location challenge emerged. I found myself in a two building sit campus with a main road in between. Some days would turn into frogger darting between the buildings. Devastator was up for the challenge for a while but the continued bouncing off the curbs and few steps finally took it out of commission. I started just luging the tool box around but it was just not mobile enough. I began looking for an ultralight compact solution to remedy this new problem that could still house all my supplies and a projector. It needed to be able to support the gorilla style grooming. I had a few ideas on paper but they were not what I really wanted. About a week later I got a package in the mail from my parents. It was my comic collection. This was a great surprise. As I was looking through them I found my Batman comics and it finally clicked! A utility belt was the answer I was looking for. Two days passed and a prototype was built.
The first day was the most awkward day in my career as people pointed, stared, and snapped pictures but I was determined this was the solution. A few weeks went by and team was heading into a grooming session. The weather was outside was beautiful and the teams moral was down because they wanted to be outside versus the conference room we were in. It was time to put the belt to the test! I rounded everyone to the court yard and explained that we would groom outside gorilla style. They looked at me in disbelief but followed me anyway. We had a great 2 hr session in the sun and cool breeze. The only issue was a security guard that was displeased we were sticking post its to the plate glass window. He said “Son, what are you doing? And what is that ridiculous commando belt you’re wearing?” The light bulb went on and I replied with confidence, “This is my Scrummando belt.” I continued by explaining what the team was doing. He moved on after we agreed not to make a mess and to clean up after we were done. From that day on, the team has called me James Scrummando Gifford.
The belt continues to evolve from its prototype with different configurations and accessories that can be adapted to the ever changing environment. It has also given way to what I call the 00 series. It is based on a suit vest for my more business formal needs.
This progression of visualization tools is a mere example of the passion I have driving transformations. With the right engagement, an organization can overcome challenges and embrace the right framework within any organization.
Would you put on the Scrummando belt too?