Platinum Principle 3: Visualizing Rather Than Writing on Your Agile Projects


The third Platinum Principle indicates how important it is for you and your project team to use visualization as a tool on your agile projects.  People automatically think and remember in images. When you visualize rather than write, information retention is much higher. The most successful agile project teams use visualization in the form of simple diagrams, drawings and/or modeling tools. Make information as visually digestible as possible and your project team and other interested stakeholders will relate better to the concept and the content.

Our ability to define the features of a system and how the individual parts interact also increases exponentially when we use visualization to enhance the system’s written description.  A graphical representation is almost always better than a written one, and experiencing the functionality first-hand is best. Even a sketch on a piece of paper can be a more effective communication tool than a formal text-based document. A textual description is the weakest form of communication if you are trying to ensure common understanding.

Visualization also helps us to place raw data into context and process it as information. Simply reading documentation about the status of a sprint or project is less effective. Add visualization – like a burn down chart –and you will increase the amount of information retained and allow the viewing of timelines, trends and possible problem areas on your project at a glance. “A picture paints a thousand words” is a powerful proverb that captures the essence of visualization.

Examples of strategies for visualization include:

  • Using models instead of text to communicate concepts
  • Reporting project status through charts, graphs and dashboards
  • Stocking the work environment with plenty of white boards, poster paper, pens and paper so that drawing tools are readily available

Use visualization on your agile projects and you, your project team, your stakeholders and your customers will reap the benefits of understanding and processing project information more quickly and efficiently.