This pandemic is creating both short-term and long-term changes in the way we behave in groups. The most obvious change is that remote meetings from home are becoming the primary form of communication. For most agilists this represents a conflict, because our stated preference for 20 years has been face-to-face communication. That’s just not going to happen now, no matter what your preference. Using remote tools like Zoom, Teams and others will be the new default for the foreseeable future, like it or not. However, there is another change taking place that’s not quite as obvious, but still important: online work tracking tools.
As a consultant prior to the COVID crisis, my preference always leaned toward using physical task boards rather than electronic ones. There is something magical about the tangible nature of a physical task board that leads to better conversations and interactions. A wall full of little yellow stickies just sets my heart a-flutter. Online tools are full of extraneous detail. They have icons, text fields, bells and whistles that often get in the way of productive and useful interaction.
Don’t get me wrong, deep down I’m a tools guy. I’ve helped sell them for many years. I know online tools very well. But none of them can beat the simplicity and elegance of a sharpie and a stack of post-it notes. Let’s face it, by the time you are done logging into your online tool, I’ve already built a physical board from scratch and begun organizing the work for the day. Physical is faster. No contest.
Guess what? All that has changed now. With everyone working from home we are all going to need some sort of electronic work tracking tool. Post-it notes and stickies are like, so totally 2019. Electronic task boards are going to become the standard. You better get to lovin’ JIRA, Trello, Azure DevOps, Rally (or whatever your favorite tool is), because it’s here to stay. The only effective way to track work with everyone at home is using an online system. Period. The only place you are going to find post-it notes is on your refrigerator. I’m selling my stock in 3M. Just for fun, I’m going to keep some of my post-it notes in a box to show to my grand-kids, “Back in my day, we used to use these things to organize how we worked…”
Go ahead, convince me I’m wrong.