1000 Words - Illustrating Project Challenges with Visuals

A project can face varied challenges through its life, foreseen and otherwise - runaway scope, high defect volumes, depressed velocity, and many more. Addressing many of these first requires recognition of the problem and then action from one or more sets of project stakeholders. Telling the story with simple visuals can be a very powerful way to articulate a challenge (the what), the potential root causes (the why) and the options available to fix it (the now-what). Teams typically already track a lot of data related to throughput, quality, scope and cost. Creative use of this data combined with simple, hand-crafted visuals can be much more effective than hundreds of bullet points. In this hands-on workshop, you get to exercise your visual thinking and visual communication skills. We introduce some simple visual thinking techniques like Look-See-Imagine-Show, and then let you apply them in a project simulation, so that you can practice hand-rolling simple visuals that speak volumes (no fancy tools needed!).

 
 

Outline/Structure of the Workshop

  1. Introduce the power of visuals and visual thinking techniques (based on principles from ‘Back of the Napkin’)
  2. Run a simple warmup exercise to allow everyone in the audience to get comfortable working with visuals
  3. Introduce the Project Scenario
  4. Participants work in groups to draw on their own experience and insights to come up with hand­drawn visuals for the Scenario (whiteboards or flipcharts required)
  5. Teams present their visuals back to everyone
  6. Facilitators share some visuals of their own

Note: We have previously run this workshop at XP2013 in Vienna and Agile2012 in Dallas.

Learning Outcome

  • Understand how simple visuals can help you better articulate the current state of the project to your stakeholders
  • Learn simple techniques to make yourself more comfortable using visuals, even if you think you're not a visual person
  • Explore how to use your project tracking data more creatively

Target Audience

Agile practitioners who play the roles of project manager, product owner, business analyst, tech lead, test lead, and anyone else who wants to use charts, graphs and other visuals tell more powerful stories.

schedule Submitted 7 years ago

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