Trial run of “embodied scheduling”

… as I’ve dubbed my new scheduling technique (which by the way is unstoppable).

So we had an all-hands group meeting last week during which The Schedule needed to be discussed. I’d let people know that I wanted to try working with the schedule in a new way.

Cards are great for tasks (done in the style of Story Cards from Extreme Programming), but for a good planning discussion, we needed a calendar reference. I just printed out a stack of week calendars from iCal and laid them out on the conference table in a long strip.

Then I grabbed the task cards for each person in the team and got them to talk about each card in turn, what the dependencies were, how long they might take to do and finally got them to put the card on the big calendar within the week it might get done.

We focussed on better accuracy for the coming week or two and let things get a little less formal further out. We’ll come back to this exercise every couple of weeks to maintain a sense of where things are and what people need to keep moving forward.

Some Preliminary Results

  • People seemed to enjoy walking around and handling the schedule better than working with a printed Gantt
  • When a task is wrong (too fine, too coarse, just wrong) on The Beautiful Gantt Chart (TBGC) it’s annoying, necessitating a negotiation with the project manager, scribbling on TBGC, later updates to the project file, regenerate TBGC, etc… By contrast, when a task card is wrong you get the satisfaction of tearing in two yourself and then rewriting the canonical card yourself. Much more satisfying.
  • Once the whole thing was done I needed to capture the layout… quickly accomplished by spending five minutes writing the week’s date on each card so I know where to put them next time.

Now, I need to work out how to send things to people. Might just type out a list, might put stuff in Basecamp… Optimal solution is really just to photocopy the cards and hand the photocopies out.

Have to do this sometime today, so I’ll let folk know what I do. I should have snapped a picture of the big calendar. Next time.

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