Project Status: Writing On The Walls

  • Presenters: Emmanuel Gaillot & Christophe Thibaut
  • Type: Simulation
  • Duration: 90
  • Audience: project managers, team leaders, developers, consultants and coaches. Any level of experience is ok. The simulation needs a minimum of six participants.

This session presents simple techniques to make project status visible early and continuously, so the project team and stakeholders may grasp in a blink the current reality of the project. The techniques may be implemented with simple office tools: flipcharts, markers and yellow stickies.


How is your project doing? How long does it take to find out what's going on? Where is the essential information? Is it hidden, squirreled away inside thousand-line code files, spreadsheets and Word documents? Or is it "in your face," shown where you can't help but see it every day?

A successful project isn't successful because the team makes no mistakes, or suffers no setbacks. Whether your project sinks or swims is determined not by circumstance but by the speed and quality of your team's response. And for this, you need tools that communicate how well you're doing, what business benefits your project currently delivers -- factually, in all transparency.

We use a simple project simulation as a backdrop for presenting and using three different tools introduced one after the other, one per iteration. Participants are divided into groups aiming for the best project result -- both collaboration and competition encouraged!

Benefits of participating

Participants will learn and practice simple techniques they can use as soon as the Monday following the conference, gain insights in the relation between choice of information media and project success, and have fun.

What will the organisers learn

The organizers expect to discover new variations the audience will derive from the presented tools, improve the format of this tutorial, and have fun.

Session Outline

The session is divided in three iterations. During half of each iteration, groups take the role of developers in a softwre team. They plan and implement stories, and build "information radiators" to communicate how well they're doing. During the second half, participants play the roles of project stakeholders and visit another group's space -- by permutation. They must figure out what the project status is and by doing so, they get the opportunity to give the "visited" group a feedback on the quality of their radiators.

  • 10 mins: Introduction, simulation set-up
  • 20 mins: Iteration & Tool One: Task Board
  • 25 mins: Iteration & Tool Two: Public Project Poster
  • 30 mins: Iteration & Tool Three: Burndown Chart
  • 5 mins: Session retrospective

Emmanuel Gaillot and Laurent Bossavit presented this session as a tutorial at the Agile 2006 Conference in Minneapolis, USA, to an audience of about 60 people.