Physical Boards Preferred

Physical Boards Preferred

I have facilitated a lean coffee during day two of my Kanban for Ops workshops for over a year now.  It’s been interesting to hear common themes surface across multiple countries from various industries.  Typical topics include:  How to deal with frequent organizational changes, kanban vs. scrumban vs. scrum, every team uses a different tool, distributed teams.

At last weeks Atlanta workshop, we had the following: “Why bother at all with an electronic kanban board?”

The consensus amongst many in the group was that when they switched from physical boards to electronic boards, they saw an immediate drop in performance.  So much so, that they reverted back to using physical boards.

Benefits of physical boards discussed: Rapid board creation, no design constraints, greater visibility, tactical pleasure in physically moving tickets, other teams stopping by board to learn what’s really going on, visibility of the nature of the demand from 50 ft. away (due to different colored work-item types).

Then, someone offered, “Well, we work remote, so a physical board won’t work for us.” To which another replied, “Just point a webcam at the board and have someone on site move the remote’s tickets during the standup!”

“But what about metrics?!?  Surely, you don’t capture those manually?”

“Yeah, we miss automated data collection, but it seems like the benefits of increased visibility outweighs the manual collection of a few simple metrics – the transaction cost isn’t that high.”

Both sides continued enthusiastically until our Lean Coffee timed out.  Seems like there is big demand for electronic kanban board tools that provide more.

Maybe we’ll start seeing greater interactive tools similar to those in Spike Jonze’s new sci-fi film ‘Her’.


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