Thursday, 22 February 2018

All worship Board God

The use of boards by teams is nothing new, every team I work with has some way of visualising their work. Many teams seem to stall at changing the board, leaving ownership to some individual (maybe the ScrumMaster or the most vocal member of the group).

This is a shame. Since the board mirrors the teams process, which is owned by the team.

I was in a situation where the board was being dictated by a single person and the team looked too scared to change it. People would compain about the board by not try to do anything about it.

In a moment of frustration, I thought "Fine, you fix it".

Enter the 'Board God'.

If anyone ventures a strong opinion on the board you can appoint them as 'Board God' for a week.

The Board God can do anything to the board they like and the team have to follow their direction for that week. At the end of the week, the team decides what they will keep and what they will reject. Stripped of his or her powers the Board God must accept their decision.

If I hear someone grumbling about something on the board, I usually appoint them 'Board God' to see how they will solve the problem they are grumbling about. Eventually, people will start to ask if they can be 'Board God' to address a specific issue that they can see.

This can trigger a spate of change, where different 'Board God's' mess with each others changes. This is a positive thing since people are getting involved with the board and ultimately the process itself.

Teams that have learned to embrace changing the board often evolve their process outside of the retrospective, shortening feedback to days or even hours.

When used in conjunction with scoring stand-ups, a team can inspect and adapt quickly. I have seen stand ups of 20+ people go from train wreck to useful in under a week using peer feedback. A score of 3 or under means you have to share what was wrong for you and the team agree corrective actions for the next day there and then.

'Board Gods' provide a solution to a problem that is then inspected by the team. The process adapts to the use the good bits and things that do not work are discarded in a safe to fail way. One team I worked with even versioned their board to help them understand when a lasting change was implemented.

This idea started as a punishment but has turned out to be a useful tool to remind teams who owns the process and encourage them to get involved in shaping it.

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