Why use an Avatar on the task board?
Avatar means a representation in another world. But on the task board we denominate our representation in the world of work as an Avatar. Generally, using an avatar on the task board means there’s an image associated with each team member, indicating the task they’re working on.
What is the Avatar on the task board for?
To know who in the team is doing what. That way, work can be coordinated.
Why is an Avatar better that putting everyone initials in each task?
- Visual: when anyone looks at the board, they can immediately see who’s doing what.
- Practical: a task is finished; someone’s absent; need to work in pairs? No need to rub out and rewrite names, scribble on the tasks etc. Just move the avatar as needed.
- Fun: creating or choosing avatars is a great Team Building activity.
But the main motives are:
- They limit the amount of Work in Progress per person. One problem that agile methods try to solve is the amount of work going on in parallel. No one is actually working simultaneously on more than one thing at a time (unless they’re typing on two or more computers at once). Stop starting, start finishing!
- Don’t create a record of who did what task. The product is the whole Team’s responsibility and each member must take that responsibility (collective ownership).
- Avoid idiotic metrics. For example: How many tasks each person did, their percentage of action in each story etc. See our post about Toxic Metrics.
Don’t move my Avatar!
The Daily Meeting is by the team, for the team. No one should stand at the board telling everyone who’ll do what, not even the Scrum Master. If anyone picks up your Avatar, shout out:
DON’T MOVE MY AVATAR!!!
Keep the board up-to-date
Finally, all this is only going to work if the board is up-to-date. It needs to reflect reality and should be a current overview of the team. If we have to ask people what they’re doing, the Avatar and even the board itself are losing their purpose.