Agile Daily Standup - How To "Walk the Wall"

Episode 10 - 04 Nov 2015

Last time, we looked at the most common stand-up model - Round Robin Yesterday/Today/Blockers - and compared and contrasted it with the "Walk the Board" model.

("Walk the Board" is also known as "Walk the Wall", "Talk to the Card", and "Talk to the Work".)

This time, we'll be Walking the Board - side to side in 5 minutes or less.

There's a reference in the video to Episode 8, which can be found here: Episode 8


Last time we looked at two ways of running stand-up:

The round-robin yesterday-today-blockers model

The Walking the Board model - otherwise known as Walking the Wall, Talking to the Card, Talking to the Work

Today we’re going to be Walking the Board - end to end in 5 minutes or less

Hi, this Gary. Welcome to Development That pays.

Here’s the board we’re going to be walking.

Today I’m going to lead stand-up.

I’m not the scrum master, I’m not the lead developer… I’m just a Plain Old Developer.

(If you watched Episode 8, you’ll know that I’m a big beliver in 'sharing the love' when it comes to stand-up)

I get things going by pointing to this card

Why do we start at the top right?

This is a whole discussion in itself… but I’ll give you two short answers for now

The first is financial

The items to the right of the board are closest to being live.

Which means that they are the closest to providing value.

(As you know, I’m very keen on the VALUE side of software development)

If you’ve come across the concept of net present value,

you’ll know that income now beats income later…

and income tomorrow beats income next week.

If you imagine a board where the features are of roughly equal value,

then the items to the right of the board have highest net present value.

It’s fitting then that we talk about them first.

A second reason for starting at the right it purely practical:

We’re going to moving the cards across the board from left to right.

By starting at the right, we create space for the cards to move into

Where were we?

Oh yes, I’m standing at the board pointing at this card.

It’s assigned to Development Dave - our fearless leader.

He’s in charge of releasing this week.

He says that this card, and indeed all of the cards in this column, will be released today.

Excellent news.

We’re done with the release column, so I move on and point to only card in the Test column.

The card is assigned to Tim. He reports that he’s having trouble a bit of trouble with it.

Kevin - the developer who did the work on the ticket - asks what the problem is.

Before we know it, Tim and Kevin are involved in a deep discussion about the card.

Stand-up is not a place for deep discussions.

The team comes to the rescue.

One by one they raise an arm in the air.

Tim and Kevin get the message… and agree to take the discussion offline.

(In plain english, this means that they are going to have a chat about it after standup.)

We’re done with the Test column, so over to the Development column.

I point to the card here at the top

Fiona is assigned to this one.

She says that she finished it yeserday and it’s now ready for test.

'Excellent', I say. And I move the ticket over to the Test column.

I’m going to freeze it right there...

Because something important just happened.

Fiona completed the task yesterday, but she didn’t move the ticket on the board.

Perhaps she forgot to move it.

Perhaps she couldn’t be bothered to move it.

But what if she didn’t move it on purpose?

What if she wanted to wait until stand-up to move the card?

How interesting.

It’s actually quite satisfying to move a card across the board;

And it’s easy to see that is could be even more satisfying to move the card across the board in front of the entire team.

You might argue that the Board should be up to date at all times. that Fiona should have moved the card yesterday.

But that would have robbed Fiona of her moment of glory.

And that, in my opinion, would have been a mistake. I’m all for moments of glory.

Next card is this one. It’s Dave’s. He reports that he’s just started, but so far it seems to be going well.

Good enough for me.

The next card is Kevin’s.

More good news - he completed the work just before stand-up. He moves the card over to the Test column

Hold on just one minute. He moved the card?!?

Isn’t that supposed to me my job? After all, I’m leading stand-up today.

Not at all.

If moving a card is a moment of glory, then walking up ro the board and moving the card can only add to the experience.

As the person running the standup., I’m happy to move the cards around.

But I’m even happier if people come up to the board and move their own cards.

There’s just one more card in the Development column. It’s is in this area to indicate that it’s blocked.

I’ve got news of this one: the card was blocked pending the receipt of access details for an external api.

I report that the access details have been received… so the ticket is no longer blocked.

I take the card and move it to the active area of the column and assign it to myself.

Want to know a little secret? I received the access details yesterday.

I could have moved the card then.

But you wouldn’t begrudge me my little moment of glory, would you?

It’s almost time to bring stand-up to a close. Two more questions:

Anyone looking for work?

Both Fiona and Kevin are assigned a ticket from the backlog.

(We’ll talk more about the process of selecting from the backlog another time.)

Anyone have anything else?

No? Excellent. We’re done for the day.

That’s it, we’ve successfully walked the board from one side to the other.

Along the way, we’ve had a couple of moments of glory - certainly not to underestimated -

and the board is now bang up to date.

Not only is the board up to date, but the team’s understanding of the current 'shape' of the board is also up to date.

Again, something not to be underestimated.

Talk to you next time.