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A Task Board That Really Sucks

27/08/2012

Last week I visited VI Company, a small but amazing Internet company in Rotterdam. Managers Tim and Ivo recently attended a Management 3.0 course, which resulted in a large backlog of potential improvements.

But I wasn’t there for what I already know. I was there to see and discuss things I didn’t know. And the one thing that stood out, quite literally, was their innovative task board.

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A typical problem in Agile organizations is that most Scrum and Kanban boards look messy. And office management doesn’t like a messy office. Office managers like their offices neat and tidy, hip and trendy. They particularly don’t like tons of sticky notes whirling through the corridors, like autumn leafs having a disco party.

Normally, Agile teams and coaches try to fight the tendencies of managers “cleaning up” the office, throwing all sticky notes in the garbage cans, together with productivity and motivation.

But VI company proved there’s really no need to fight, if you all address your concerns and work out a solution together.

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The task boards at VI company are on a glass wall containing hundreds of suckers (suction cups) with hooks on them. And the “stickies” are replaced with cards that are actually miniature white boards, which they can simply hang on the hooks.

VI company’s task boards look neat and tidy, hip and trendy. And while their Agile teams do their usual stand-ups each morning, moving the cards from sucker to sucker, management enjoys having the coolest work place in the building. They have task boards that truly suck!

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Do you have an amazing work place with innovative management?

Let me know, and I could pay you a visit, and bring my camera. :)

p.s. The amazing task boards at VI company are custom designed and built. Feel free to contact them if you want to know more about it.

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This article is written by on in Quality Improvement. Jurgen Appelo is at Happy Melly. Connect with Jurgen Appelo on .

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  • Machiel

    Is it just the suckers make the difference or do they actually have a different way of tracking work? I can’t tell from the picture.

  • http://www.idtect.nl Maurice

    In my experience, suction cups decide to take off just as often as sticky notes, I like the scrum magnets as sold by Prowareness (http://webshop.scrum.nl/PW002–scrum-board-magneten.html). Both have an equal disadvantage, it is very time consuming to clean those “small whiteboards” every sprint.

  • http://vicompany.nl Ivo

    @maurice we have them for half a year now and they didn’t fall off yet :)
    @Machel The suckers and the “whiteboard cards” replace the post-its, we track the work the same way (we have a column for to-do, in progress, on hold and done)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/joshualewis Joshua Lewis

    I like this approach because it makes limiting work-in-progress much more explicit and enforcable – if there are no available hooks, there’s no space/capacity for the work

  • Niels talens

    I read some discussions here and there about this board. There are in contrast to Jurgen also some people who weren’t very charmed by this tool.
    Luckily VI Company responds very cool to this and agreed to let us organize the first AgileOpenKitchen at their office so everyone can see the board (and other processes) for themselves:
    http://www.meetup.com/agilethings/events/80240672/