Post-it® notes are the life-blood of Agile. So we’re told. Those little flaps of paper, usually hastily scribbled on, are the only way to prove you’re Doing It Right™.
I’m not a big fan. They’re environmentally wasteful, inaccessible, and a bit crap for remote workers. But some people love them, so who am I to judge?
Recently, I visited a fairly large company who are making the painful transition from providing mega-software into to being a nimble, digital supplier. Their walls were plentifully decorated with multi-coloured Post-it® notes.
Decorated being the operative word. A quick glance at them showed titles like “To-Do 2018” and “Easter Fire-Break” and “FAO Jerry”.
“Who is Jerry?” I asked.
“Oh… I think he left a few months back,” came the reply.
Now, not all of the Kanban Boards were outdated – some were obviously in use and had teams performing their daily rituals in front of them. But the majority seemed abandoned.
Perhaps abandoned is too strong a word. They were like cave paintings. Evidence of the hunt, sure, but now decorations to be marvelled at. A way to indoctrinate new members of the tribe.
Perhaps the Post-it® notes were good-luck charms. A steady stream of investors would have walked through the hallways and seen “evidence” of an advanced civilisation.
Perhaps the Post-it® notes were to ward off evil spirits. A cranky manager would have been mollified that his team were truly agile, and then left them alone in peace to carry on their waterfall development.
What I’m trying to say is this. You can’t put up wallpaper and pretend it is structural transformation.