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Hacking Marketing by Scott Brinker

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13Visualizing Work and Workflow to Prevent Chaos

Short loops of incremental and iterative work, with built-in checkpoints for feedback and adaptation, are the engine of agile management. But visualizing your work and workflow establishes a framework in which that engine can run fast—yet in a controlled and efficient fashion.

As we accelerate the speed at which marketing management is operating, dividing larger projects into bite-sized increments and enabling more small-scale experiments, we increase the number of moving pieces in our field of vision. To avoid being overwhelmed—and to prevent chaos—we need a system by which we can identify and track all of these tasks, their relative size and priority, where they are in the pipeline of work being done, who's doing what, and what everyone agrees will happen next.

We'd also like that system to be easy to understand and simple to use—a lightweight process—so that it doesn't become a drag on our momentum. Sound like too much to ask for?

Three of the major agile management methodologies—Scrum, Kanban, and Scrumban—have converged on a similar mechanism for this that works really well. Sometimes called Scrum boards or task boards, they're really all variations of a Kanban board.

As I briefly introduced earlier, you can picture a Kanban board as a whiteboard divided into columns. Each column represents a workflow stage that tasks move through. The simplest Kanban board typically has three columns: To Do, In Progress, and Done. Tasks ...

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