5 Whys is a blog about technical leadership in the software world.

Step #2 – Use a big visible board with post it notes

Most team leads really have no idea how many things their developers are doing at the same time.

There is a very simple tools that you can use starting today. Take a white board and place it in an area where your whole team can take a look at it. It's not supposed to be in a computer so don't try to use software for this.

It's supposed to be a big visible board.

Give it columns for pending tasks, tasks in progress, tasks done (waiting for approval) and tasks approved as done. In the case down below “Accepted” means that a customer has seen a demo of this functionality and said it’s OK.




Next, you can start out by placing post it notes or index cards with small tasks. you fill the left most side with tasks that you are planning for this week. This is not an “iteration”. it’s just the amount you think you can make in a week. Any tasks that don’t fit in this board belong on an excel document



Once you’ve done this, ask team members to put on the “in progress” column any tasks they are currently doing, or to add any cards which do not exist that represent work they are currently doing. Ask them to put names on cards they are working on, or, assign the in progress part in the groups by the team names:

what ends up happening in a lot of teams is something like this:


this board represents the fact that you have people working on multiple things at the same time. That’s not a great thing.

the good thing is that at least you’ve found out about this and can do something about it!

you an also use this board to show management just  how busy your team really is.

Try to have no more than one concurrent task for developers on your team, as a thumb rule.

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