There are some fascinating developments in the area of visual thinking. It’s highly relevant to Agile practices and it’s based around the simple art of doodling. Sunni Brown makes the point in her TED talk that 75% of the cerebral cortex is devoted to a single sense – sight. The prevalence of visual aids such as whiteboards are used heavily in Agile and the whiteboard can be a key tool in communicating within the team and exploring concepts with the product owner or project stakeholder.

Sunni also mentions research that suggests that 72 hours after seeing text we retain just 10% of the information. In comparison 90% of drawings are retained in the memory a year after the fact.

We already use extended visual indicators on our board such as the ‘flag’ to add value and transparency to our Sprints. The addition of a further descriptive element would make sense. During a longer Sprint (2-3 weeks +) it’s easy to start losing track of the detail of Sprint Backlog Items. The introduction of a small doodle to act as an ‘aide memoir’ might be just the thing. I’ve introduced this concept to the whiteboard in the last couple of Sprints.

Doodles on whiteboard

I’m excited about the possibilities of fusing the strengths of Agile with visual language and I’ll post how the experience plays-out.

You can watch the TED talk on

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