Friday, October 28, 2011

What belongs on the Task Board?

I wonder about these questions a lot - what types of task belong on the task board?  Does every task have to belong to a Story?  Are some tasks just too small?  Are some tasks too obvious?  Obviously some task are too larger, but when should it be decomposed?  How will we know a task is too large?

I answer these questions with a question.  What about a task board motivates us to get work done?  The answer is: T.A.S.K.S. to DONE!

Inherent in the acronym TASKS is the point of all tasks, to get to done.  That is the measure of if the task is the right size.  Does it motivate us to get the work done?  (see notes on Dan Pink's book: Drive - The surprising Truth about what motivates us) If we are forgetting to do some class of task then putting it on the board will help us remember.  If we think some small task is being done by someone else, then putting it on the board will validate that someone else is actually doing it.  If a task is obvious, then putting it on the board will take virtually no time and promote the well being of getting things done.  If a task is too large it will never move to done.

Sisyphean - adjective (of a task) such
that it can never be completed.
I walked up to a task board just this week and saw a set of Sisyphean Tasks.  It was a signal that the board would not be helpful.  No flow would happen.  The task would get to In-Process and stay there for life.  What information would radiate from this board?  A static task board sends the one signal - we don't know what we are working on, and we can't tell you.

The solution for this group was to realize that those epic tasks were a story or a class of work and after reforming the task board a bit, we made a minor improvement.  Hey, that's what it's all about.

Oh... no, maybe that's the Hokey-Pokey.

See Also:
Why Visual Management Techniques are so Powerful
Elements of an Effective Scrum Task Board
7 Aspects of a GREAT Impediment Sticky
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