Archive for the ‘Visual Management’ Category

Inspired by Bart De Waele’s last post a list of what I typically take with me every day.

– an USB headphone, that I can use to talk on Skype when I work with remote people.
– charger for my MacBook pro
– a physical book. I spend at least 1 hour every day on a train, when I usually read a lot. Although I prefer reading in my kindle, I always have a physical book with me as backup.
Jimmy  Cards, to use with teams or individuals.
– a device to do digital banking. (For when I need to make large payments I can’t do on my phone.) I always have a spare one with me.
– a clicker for presentations (Logitec)
– in ear plugs for listening to music on the train or my bike.
Deborah Hartmanns Fearless Journey cards (based on Linda Risings  Fear-less change book.
– My Macbook pro with gothic Snowwhite. (I have this picture to make sure I recognise my Macbook)
Jurgen Appelo’s delegation poker cards.
– A small pack of glass cleaners.
– two adapters so I can work on my laptop with a second screen.
– my kindle.
– my scarf. As a coach, trainer, presenter, my voice is my most precious instrument, you will hardly see me outside without my scarf. Yes even in the summer, I’m very sensitive to wind.
– My kisika (yellow jack), as I drive with my bicycle to the trainstation and I want to set an example for my kids, I will always wear this. (I just realised, left out my bike helmet because it was not in my rucksack. )
moving motivator cards (also from Jurgen Appelo)
– a small set of gongs. They take up very limited space and at least once a week I can use them when I did not expect it.
– post it’s and Stattys. There is not a meeting that I don’t use them. (I prefer Stattys over post it’s)
– a small solar charger for my phone. (I just realised my cable was actually in use when I took the picture)
– a marker.
– a small notebook
– something I use on plane or train to block light on my eye so I can sleep.
– my Iphone 5S (I agree with Bart, I never buy the first form factor of a new device)
– the phone is inside a small cover that also contains the cards I take with me.
– a wireless trackball (that I can use also todo presentations with)
a handshoe mouse: the last two device or some of the many mouses I use. Since I invested in that I no longer have trouble from a RSI that had started.
This are just the things I always take with me.

When I go abroad I also take:
– a powerstrip, so I can connect many devices in my hotel.
– a small bag full of international connectors
– a neck pillow for the airplane
– passport
– a digital photo camera (Canon)

What I don’t take might be as interesting:
– I hardly have cash with me.





One of the ways I am coaching companies, is that I offer what I call free mini agile training sessions.
These are brownbag sessions, something I learned from Linda & Mary Lynn great book: Fearless Change

Today these are 1 hour (optional) sessions for anyone in the company that wants to learn about agile.
Depending on how much time I spend at the company, I do them once a week or ever x weeks.
Sometimes they are workshops I am doing for a long time, sometimes they are try out’s of something new.

This is an example of a such a try out-session.

I show a picture of a kanban board similar to the one below:
(I took a different one, so I can keep mine for my exercise 😉 )

Scrum Board

I gave everyone post-its and a 5  to 10 minute timebox to write down what they saw.

Then everyone could present one post-it and in a round-robin way we went around the table. (After we have done one round, we turn again, until most people have no post-it’s left anymore.
Depending on how many idea’s there are, we look at all of them.

Every time a person presented a post-it. I asked everyone if it was a fact or an interpretation.

let me give you an example:
– people are already working on the second story before the first is finished.
> actually the first lane is a priority lane, that is working with support tickets.

Ok, I admit that is hard to figure out from a picture that is not complete. let’s look at a next one.

– Alex is working on too many stuff.
mm the fact is, there are 3 post it’s with a small post it Alex on it.
In this case, the team leaves a post it in the WIP colum, untill the next stand up. Yet they do a blue Done sticky, when finished. Alex is actually only working on one thing.

by this time people start realize that seeing facts is really hard.
yet at the same time they do miss a lot of obvious facts. So obvious that we ignore them.
The board uses black tape to make the squares. this might seem trivial and not important, untill I tell you that this is the black team and the color of the tape is making the difference on the boards.
Other facts: some post it’s are yellow, others are green.

When I did the tryout of this exercise, we had a team member joining this workshop  rather late.
This turned out very fortunate, as I told this person the exercise and when he presented his post it’s, I asked the already present team members to replay the exercise with him.
It was very nice to see what they had already learned from the previous time.

When I tweeted about the exercise, I was reminded of the ladder of Inference
An adapted version of the exercise could be, to not only select fact or interpretation, yet to see if you can come up with post it’s for all 7 layers of the ladder.  As a first exercise for team members that have to learn about the difference between fact and interpretations this was already cool.

Topics that came up during the workshop

I show this list of topics, to show that a small workshop that is only loosely facilitated, can bring up many interesting topics, where the students choose themselves in what they are interested in.
For me, the power of training from the back of the room






Last week I published the Agile Thursday Quiz about BurnupCharts.
Here are the answers from Pawel Brodzinski. (who created these questions.)

Looking at a burn-up chart one can say:

Looking at a burn-up chart one can’t say:

On a burn-up chart you measure amount of work on a vertical axis. What measure you can use?


What is a difference between a burn-up and a burn-down chart?


Yes, Pawel decided to pull a trick on you,  as all of the answers are correct.
Most of answers can be found in his post about burn-up charts: and the rest is stuff that is true for both burn-ups and burn-downs.

More links about BurnUp Charts:

This last reference can be used as a reference to the questions, may render some of the answers for the last question false. Pawel used as a reference the classic version of burn-down charts.In fact, this may be the biggest lesson: how can you improve your burn-downs.


Agile Estimation & planning 

For this ATQ,  Pawel Brodzinski helped me out with the questions.
1) Looking at a burn-up chart one can say:
a) How much work has been done
b) How much work is yet to be done
c) What is roughly the pace at which the work is progressing
d) When roughly the work is expected to be done
e) How much time has elapsed since the team started tracking work using the chart
2) Looking at a burn-up chart one can’t say:
a) How much time it took to build work items that are completed
b) How many work items were completed on each day
c) The exact date when the work will be finished
d) How many people worked in a team on each day
e) What the quality of estimates for each work item was
3) On a burn-up chart you measure amount of work on a vertical axis. What measure you can use?
a) Story points
b) Number of work items of any type
c) Number of user stories
d) Weighted size, e.g. if you use T-shirt sizing, L item will be worth more than M, etc.
e) Estimated effort needed to complete work
4) What is a difference between a burn-up and a burn-down chart?
a) On a burn-up chart the curve goes up, not down
b) It is easier to show scope change on a burn-up chart
c) On a burn-up chart the curve shows only change of completed work, while on burn-down it can also refer to the change of scope
d) Steepness of the curve on a burn-up chart always allows to figure out the pace of work, while on a burn-down chart it isn’t always possible
e) A burn-up chart can be easily enhanced to Cumulative Flow Diagram while it’s not that easy with a burn-down chart

Please add your answers in the comments and on monday I’ll publish Pawel’s answers.


When we talk about thinking outside a box, lots of people have the tendency to say we should not have a box.
I used to think I was very open minded and I did not think inside a box. That in itself is “a box”.
The last years as a coach, my questions are more around helping people realizing they are always inside a box. (or actually more boxes)
Once they know that, we can work on finding the boxes.

When I was reading Personal Kanban, I read about a pedometer. A small device that tracks my steps and helps me visualize how much movement I make (or not make).
When I read it, I was convinced, which is funny as I gave that to my brother-in-law a few years ago as a (requested) gift and I was not convinced at the time [box 1]

When I had mine, I quickly realized that my movement was even worse then what I assumed. (the biggest value of Visual management) as the problem is always worse then what you think of.

When I realized that, I started looking how I could move more.

I could hardly find any:

– I work full time for my clients
– I have a company to run
– I have 3 young kids
– etc etc

>> Yes: all kinds of excuses. Easy to see from a distance, but when you are in the situation, they all look valid. (And they are valid.) [Box nr 2]

So I shifting my coaching question to myself.
The internal conversation went something like this:

Why do I try to coach myself? Why don’t I wait to ask my personal coaches, to help me on this one?
Nah, I am waiting on a train, I have some time to think about that.
True, but with my coaches, thinks might go faster
Mm, I feel some resistance here. Let’s drop the resistance. [Removing box 3, that says I need a coach to change myself]
Ok, if I can do this myself, let’s see what box I am in.

After a while (no idea how long) I found a box:

One box, is that I can’t move more with my current life. [Box 2]
Part of that box, is that all these movements need to be large movements. [Box 4]
Haha, but that is why I have the pedometer, to see the total of the day.

– I already take the stairs instead of the elevator at work as much as possible.
– I go by foot or bike to the trainstation.

What else can I do?
And then it struck me. I was standing at the train station and I was waiting already 10 minutes.
Instead of standing still like everyone, I might as well walk while waiting.
And so I did.

More important, I did this the last 6 months every day I took the train.
Every morning when I arrive at the train station I walk in circles/ellipses while waiting.

side effects:
I don’t rush to get my train anymore.
If I arrive a few minutes earlier, it’s no longer a loss. It’s a gain.

Still left to improvement:
I don’t have the same habit in the evening. I do it from time to time, but not as regular.

Update: Other options would be to have a treadmill desk. Read a diary of one user here.

So what box are you in?

In the agile world we have a few exercises to show the effects of multi tasking.

Last year I when I did a personal agility workshop with Gerry Kirk, he teached me a new one. He learned it from Alan Cyment

It became my favorite exercise about MT.

We divide the  group in two. The two parts are standing in a row facing each other.
















We do 3 exercises in multiple ways.


  1. a complex hand exchange (like in a child song)
  2. Count from 1 till 10 with your partner using your fingers. (Person 1: shows 1 finger, then person : 2 fingers, person 1 shows 3 fingers…)
  3. “sing” a song. Person 1 says one word and then her partner says the second word and then again person 1.

The first round we do the exercise in sequence. First exercise 1, then exercise 2, then exercise 3.  What makes this exercises harder is that for each exercise you have a different partner. So after you have finished exercise 1, one row shifts one position to the left. (and the first person moves to the last position.) And the same again after you have finished exercise 2.

In the second round, people start the first exercise and when the leader says so, the group switches to exercise 2 or 3. Now this is when it becomes interesting as people have to remember where they were and they have to find their new partner and remember at what part of that exercise they where.

This exercise reminds most participants about their worklife. Always changing priorities, finding partners back. Before you can do a small task, the priorities have changed again.

One of the interesting things about this exercise, is that everytime I did this, in the first round all 3 exercises are finished in less time then finishing the first exercise in round 2.

So switching priorities does no help, not even to give the impression that things move faster.







Here are Xaviers answers for his Agile Thursday Quiz on Visual Management

What is Visual Management about?

C. Work and workflows

E. Signs and signals


What are the benefits of Visual Management?

A. Creates transparency and trust

D. Exposes lazy and useless people

E. Enables people to decide what they have to do next

Which of these are desireable attributes of your taskboard?

A. It should be clear and simple

C. It should be in a public space

D. It should be comprehensible by random people

E. It should be clean and tidy

What are the drawbacks of Visual Management?

A. It kills trees

B. It does not work well with distributed teams

D. It cannot be used by the blind

F. It is not suitable for highly regulated environments


You can learn more Xaviers blog about Visual Management

Gemba Panta Rei blogs about Visual Management from a different point of view
Visual Management is an important part of Kanban so check out David Andersons book on Kanban

I personally also like Personal Kanban and use Visual Management in my personal life.

While we wait for Xavier to write the book about Visual management, here is a list of a few books that are related:

This weeks ATQ is coming from my friend Xavier Quesada. I thought I understood Visual Management, and then I started working with Xavier.


1) What is Visual Management about?

A. Drawings and pictures

B. Mind maps

C. Work and workflows

D. Arrows, boxes, and other shapes

E. Signs and signals

F. Graphs and charts


2) What are the benefits of Visual Management?

A. Creates transparency and trust

B. Spawns higher quality work

C. Enables command and control

D. Exposes lazy and useless people

E. Enables people to decide what they have to do next

F. Exposes projects behind schedule

3) Which of these are desirable attributes of your taskboard?

A. It should be clear and simple

B. It should be as big as possible

C. It should be in a public space

D. It should be comprehensible by random people

E. It should be clean and tidy

F. It should capture and show as much information as possible

4) What are the drawbacks of Visual Management?

A. It kills trees

B. It does not work well with distributed teams

C. It works well only in startups and small organizations

D. It cannot be used by the blind

E. Traditional management doesn’t like it

F. It is not suitable for highly regulated environments

dear author, publisher, readers

I read a lot of books. I always have.

September 2010 I bought my first kindle. In less then a year, after reading 45 books, I prefer reading on a kindle. And not just because of the screen. Even more about the whole reading experience.

Let me tell you a little story to tell you how far this goes:

A few months ago I started reading Continuous Delivery on the train in the hard copy version. In less then 10 pages I realized I did not like reading this version. I turned on my kindle and ordered the digital version. Less then a minute later I was again reading, but now on my kindle. Yep that is how I buy new books these days, on a train in the middle of nowhere, miles away from my computer.

I know that lots of publishers don’t like the way amazon treats them. To avoid working with amazon, they offer their electronic books on their website. Because they know people like reading on a kindle, they offer them also in the kindle format. From their point of view, problem solved.

I’m sorry that does not work for me. Let me clarify that. I’m sorry for your lost sales.

I think it’s time to talk about the reader point of view, I will give you a few examples on how the e-books experience is different for me then reading dead-tree books.


old books:  I order a book when I heard about it and I thought it would be a good one to read. The book sit on my stack ToRead, together with tons of others. Sometimes a book is out-dated before I even started, sometimes I’m no longer interested in the topic because I moved on professionally (most technical development books would go in that category)

kindle books: When I hear about a book, I send the sample to my kindle. I put it in the category ToRead (it now contains +200 books). When I pick up my kindle to read, I first finish the book I am currently reading. If I don’t have energy for that one, I go to my category Reading, (that has a WIP limit of 6) and I pick another book to read.

If the Reading category contains less then 6 books and I have energy for none of them, I browse my ToRead category and pick up a sample. I start reading the sample. When I finish the sample book and the books fits my current interest and energy level, I buy the book from my kindle. & I continue reading. Even when I am at home, I don’t go to my computer to buy a book.  If I would go to a computer (or similar device) the chance is pretty high I end up reading my e-mail, twitterfeed or anything else that keeps me from reading a book.


Old books: Most of the books I am reading, are business books. In an old book I would write notes on pages, I would underline stuff. That works fine in old books. Some people don’t like it as it “destroys” the book. I don’t mind, a book is a tool, it’s not sacred for me. Sometimes I add a dog-ear as a visual management tool to find an note back. That only works if I look in to the correct book. (Finding the correct book can take a long time…)

Kindle books: With my kindle (V3), I first select the text, then I start typing. I have to admit, using the small keyboard with his limited default characters took me a while to get used to. Now I love it.

  1. I can read it. I have a horrible handwriting and when I take notes in a sidebar with little place, it usually got worse.
  2. I can find it! I can search in my kindle for comments over all the books I have. No need to remember what book I read something in.
  3. I can share it! I have the choice to record my comments local or share it on the internet. This creates a total new experience. Other people react to what I wrote and I get a much deeper understanding of the topic. (the author is no longer the sole source of knowledge)
  4. With every public comment I make publicity for the book (it does not matter if I like the book or not). For me these kind of comments are recommendations on speed.
    Sharing comments on the internet does not work when I buy a kindle book outside amazon. So not only you have a high chance of missing out my sale, if you do get my sale, you miss out my referrals.


Do you now buy more or less books?
Yves you said you know have +200 books in your ToRead list. Does this not mean you buy less books then before?

Interesting question. The answer is both yes and no.
Yes: I don’t buy books anymore I won’t read.
No as I now don’t doubt anymore before I adding a book to my ToRead list. (in other words this list is longer as the books I would buy before (my kindle) ready to be picked up to read)
This has a significant influence on publishers statistics: books that are only bought for show, won’t show up. So in kindle stats you will only see books that are actually read (at least if people buy kindle books like I do, which I think they do.)
That was a nice consultancy answer, can’t you give me hard numbers?
You are right, we change artists always think that there is more then 1 truth.
You ask for hard numbers, well I have + 45 books in my Read category. I’m pretty sure I never bought 45 hard copy books in one year for myself.


If you are an author please talk to your publisher about uploading your books to amazon.

Update: I got a remark in a personal e-mail that the author did not have time to put into comments. That author said I was supporting amazon’ monopoly. And it was reducing competition.
I don’t think it is a monopoly, I think that Amazon is creating more competition, but at a different level. Dean Wesley posted a nice blog post today claiming that traditional publishers make more money with digital books then with paper books.

+ I want to stress that I ask for publisher to ALSO publish on the amazon site. Not for not publishing on other places.