3 is the magic number – well it was for a long time

We recently moved away from a 3 column view to 6 columns on our whiteboard. Following Ken Schwaber’s advice (and numerous others) we had been working with 3 columns for 15-16 months and had found them to be excellent. The company I work for had gained ISO accreditation and the development process was looked at in some detail. Code reviews and testing was an area that required further attention and new statuses were added to tasks to reflect this.

5 column Sprint whiteboard

We soon found that our whiteboard was not giving a true indication of the state of the Sprint. ‘In Progress’ had become a bucket for tasks in varying stages of completion. On one hand this was correct, on the other not knowing at a glance if a task was being reviewed or was ready for test was a problem.

We have been working for about 6 months now with 6 columns and it has been very successful. I have tried to resist the temptation to over-complicate the whiteboard as this defeats the purpose.  A yardstick I use is to ask myself the following question:

“is it possible to glance at the board and see what the state of the Sprint is”

My ‘at a glance’ approach is applied and extended to much of my design work and presentations.

There’s a great discussion of three column whiteboards here: