Thursday, August 9, 2012

Information Radiators and the Vogons!

I recently had an interesting discussion with someone while trying to go over the difference between an information radiator and an information refrigerator in an Agile context.

Providing visible and public information to the stakeholders and the company is an important part of Scrum, OpenAgile, or your Agile Framework of choice.

We were discussing the fact that their system where everybody diligently enters all their status updates, burn-down info, obstacles, and so on isn't seen by the Stakeholders or the rest of the company.  The information doesn't serve the intended needs because the stakeholders use a different system to receive updated information.

Then, it came to me.... Think about The Vogons!

In the book, "The Hitchhikers's Guide to the Galaxy", the Vogons are clearing a path through space and destroy Earth to make way for an intergallactic freeway.  Arthur Dent (the human in the story) is outraged that there was no warning before his planet was destroyed.

The response from the Vogon Commander is something along the lines of ..  "It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet in the planning department."

The Vogon commander implies that the information was communicated and that it was not the Vogon's fault if Earth didn't do anything with the information.

Make sure you are not a Vogon.  Just because you post information into a Wiki, Tracker or electronic tool does not mean you are radiating information.

You may be putting information in the system in a format your group can retrieve or see, but that does not mean it is reaching your stakeholders.

Consider letting your stakeholders know what you can provide and then ask them what will help them easily see it.

Mike Caspar

References:
SCRUM - ScrumAlliance.org, SCRUM.Org
OpenAgile - OpenAgile.com
Vogons - Hitchkiker's Guide to the Galaxy