Funny title, I know. But sometimes you have to choose a funny name to make waves. Let me tell you about a little internal project that has changed the way we work together, in delightful ways.
A while back, I told you about our experiments in agile design, how we were applying agile methodologies in working groups to get results faster. Our working group was tasked to find a better way to explain our user experience process to the organization and our clients. We felt that the nuances were getting lost in translation, and perhaps a few tools would help our colleagues in those conversations that count. We envisioned a master spreadsheet, complete with every user experience task known to man, subdivided by roles and wired with rates, so our project managers could have a way to devise estimates. We also envisioned a Tuftesque super graphic that would explain the dance of roles, tasks and deliverables; a veritable work of art that would leave no one in question of our process. It was that easy, right?
Our hypothesis soon began to generate more questions than answers. Although the master spreadsheet is useful, it does cause headaches for us that are more visually inclined. It also lent to creating rigid, waterfall processes, which gave no room for flexibility and creativity. How is this helpful for team members? Also, how were we going to create that super graphic? Our process changes from project to project, so how could one graphic and spreadsheet explain it all? Perhaps we should create multiple graphics for types of projects? How do we get to those frameworks? These questions led to some interesting answers. To come up with the diagram prototypes, we decided to write the tasks on bits of paper and try some configurations on a tabletop. We quickly jumped to creating permanent magnets to be used on the magnetic white board, on which project specific notes could be written quickly. Reuse, recycle, recreate! Plans of steel, no less!
We've been using the H Pack internally now for a few months, and we have seen some great successes:
- Project estimation time has been cut in half.
- Unique and innovative approaches are developed collaboratively with all team players.
- By giving everyone a voice at the table, project engagement and ownership has increased.
- Understanding our colleagues' roles happens in context to specific project objectives.
- Critical discussions happen early on.
We are always adding more tasks and deliverables to the H Pack as each team uses it. It continues to become a richer source of knowledge at Habanero. And it gives us time to spend time together working, which can be a whole lot of fun!