I am assisting a group of people (not exactly a team, since they're not working together towards a common goal, they're rather trying to manage projects around them), to use a visualization board to make their job visible. It's not exactly a Kanban board, since there are no WIP limits.

The group is fairly new to the Agile mindset, and they are not in a position to do Scrum, or Kanban, since as I mentioned they don't have a product, they're merely managing and running parts of a waterfall process.

We tried to visualize their work, and after about 1.5 months, the group doesn't find a value behind utilizing a board, yes, they like the overall picture, but they think it's just adding maintenance (they rarely, if ever update it before the meeting). Also, with the number of tickets, they find it overwhelming to keep track, or to use it to their benefit whatsoever. Nevertheless, they seem to like the fact that they can use it so that they don't forget about certain things. But due to the nature of their work, their tickets stay in a swimlane (e.g. In Progress) for many days or weeks. The group comprises a team lead / product manager, a communications manager, a technical project manager, and a client training / material provider.

Usually, their meetings lack focus (that's why the idea with the board), and are all over the place, with a mixture of status update / solutionizing, and long silences. They last for about an hour, but they're not every day.

Any ideas on how else to help this group visualize their work, or organize their work a bit better?

  • 1
    "their meetings lack focus" seems like the first issue to address, a board is not going to (re)solve that. Bring the focus back in, tools and procedures come later
    – Jan Doggen
    Commented May 20, 2021 at 15:18
  • 2
    If they aren't a team with a common objective or focus, what is their need to even have meetings? Why even share anything about what each of them is doing if there are no mutual dependencies? Commented May 20, 2021 at 18:46

1 Answer 1


Visualization ≠ Dependency Management

Visualizing the work is a technique, and generally solves for a problem that this group of individuals may not actually have. To find value in a solution, you first have to determine what problem you're actually solving for. While I suspect the problem is dependency management, that's not self-evident from your original post, and you may need to get a lot more information from the group before identifying a root cause and a potential solution.

You describe a group of people who are not collaborating, but probably have dependencies on one another. A kanban (physical or otherwise) isn't really a dependency-management tool, so I'm not at all surprised that they aren't finding value in it.

In addition, when reading between the lines it largely sounds like this meeting is a routine status pull from someone. Who's pulling the status? Why do these people all need to sit in the same room to hear about status updates that may not affect them? A lot of value is often lost this way.

Consider the following problem-solving steps:

  1. Is there even a real problem to be solved here? Find out who's feeling the pain.
  2. If there is an identifiable pain point, what specific problem is this group of people trying to solve for that they hope will make the pain go away?
  3. If they're trying to solve for dependencies, but they work independently, this is a non-trivial process issue rather than a tooling problem.
  4. If no one wants to tackle the process issues, you can't get buy-in.
  5. If you can't get buy-in or no one wants to invest the effort to resolve the problem, then don't spend time trying to solve a problem that's not important enough for the people most affected to spend time on.

In short, you may be tilting at windmills. If you aren't, then the whole group needs to make a better effort to uncover the pain and collectively determine an approach that addresses the root cause.

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