Obstacles and problems should not disappear into the Product Owner or Iteration Lead’s notebook.
They should be published so everyone can see what problems other team members have and feel encourage them to help them out. A useful tool for publicising obstacles, impediments and planned improvements is an Improvement Board.
Benefits of an Improvement Board
- Problems are not forgotten or misremembered.
- Writing an issue down short-circuits long discussions.
- Making problems visible encourages active participation in problem-solving.
- A large volume of problems should be taken into account in your Iteration Planning and Refine Backlog sessions and your Retrospectives.
A simple Improvement Board might look like this:
|Name||Count||Temporary fix||Permanent fix||Status|
|Short title for issue.||How many instances to date?||Recognized temporary solution.||Planned permanent fix.||Status of permanent fix.|
|Proin quis mauris at sem tempus sagittis nec in dui.||1||Morbi non quam neque. Morbi hendrerit semper sem, sit amet imperdiet nulla convallis ut. Fusce.||Fusce eget convallis elit. Praesent in placerat tortor. Phasellus molestie sollicitudin urna, lacinia lobortis purus ultricies et. Pellentesque elit est, tincidunt ac quam non, tempor.||In progress|
|Curabitur rutrum et lectus ut lacinia.||3||Praesent et purus porta, porta orci nec, faucibus massa. Fusce urna orci.||TBD||To do|
Still more simply, you could structure it as a task board, with just 3 columns:
|To do||In progress||Done|
|Donec auctor orci aliquam pellentesque mattis.||Suspendisse tincidunt dolor in odio eleifend mattis. Donec.||Proin ac ex sed mauris accumsan ornare.|
|Aliquam blandit vestibulum magna et vehicul||Donec felis arcu, facilisis id.|
Setting up an Improvement Board
- Nominate a visible space as your ‘Improvement Board’.
- A public whiteboard.
- A team-wide online tool.
- On it, list all obstacles:
- Identified during the team’s meetings…
- … or from offline discussions…
- … or day-to-day work…
- … or simply individual concerns.
- Also list all ideas for improvements,
- Use it to track progress towards elimination.
- Anyone can add new obstacles or improvements at any time.
- Include all obstacles and improvements, even when the team can’t be expected to fix them.
- The Iteration Lead or Product Owner should record them on the Improvement Board…
- … but then take these offline & report back on them to the team as they progress.
- Make sure that you write large enough for the board to be read from a distance.
- To encourage involvement.
- To broadcast progress.
- Update each improvement’s status as soon as it changes.
- Celebrate closing items.