Factor for Simplicity: Create Visibility of Work and Workflow

Why look at this

You can’t manage anything or make proper decisions without good information. Visibility means to have access to the information needed to make good decisions. The purpose of this is to enable making local decisions consistent with the bigger objectives.

‘Visibility’ means being able to see:

  • The work being done. This includes:
    • Whether the items are waiting or being worked on
    • The size of the items
    • Any dependencies between one item and others
    • the relative importance of the work compared to other items being worked on
  • The agreements people have made how they do their work (this is not set in stone but represents the best known way at the time that people are doing)
  • The queues holding items to work on
  • Any blockages to the work

The intent of visibility is:

  • People can see their work
  • They can see work coming their way
  • They can ensure people downstream from them can see what they will be generating
  • Dependencies between items being worked on
  • The amount of work in process
  • Where work is waiting
  • The rate at which work flows and or waits

See Why DA FLEX Suggests Having Explicit Workflow and Agreements

Symptoms that you have insufficient visibility

Insufficient visibility of the work

Main symptoms:

  • leadership and management does not know what’s going on in the organization
  • people are surprised when new work shows up for them to do

Insufficient visibility of the workflow

By this we mean if the agreements around the workflow are visible.  These are not visible when people don’t think they are important. Some approaches, Scrum in particular, suggest against this based on the mistaken notion that making them explicit will make them rigid.

What causes this

Creating visibility occurs when there is a recognition that it is a good thing to do. Many in the Agile community resist having explicit workflows because they conflate that with set procedures.

Creating line of sight to Business Value

Creating ‘line of sight’ means to ensure that everyone working on something understands the business value of it. To accomplish this requires the decomposition of MBIs into features which are then decomposed into stories while maintaining an audit rail of this decomposition.