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Why your team might need a decision board

So we shipped a huge feature this monday and the following post natum revealed something which made me really happy: The Decision Boardâ„¢ is a thing! Story goes like this:

We found ourselves repeatedly discussing the same things. Sometimes we simply had forgotten about the outcome. Sometimes nobody had written it down. Sometimes the decision had been written down but got lost. Sometimes we had figured out the actual question which needed to be answered but didn't follow up. Sometimes team members were simply not present at the discussion and didn't know what we had talked about.

Making decisions as a team is cool. But re-discussing stuff can get tedious and leaving stuff undecided is not really... uhm... helping.

So some day we cleaned a part of our whiteboard, and started collecting questions and decisions:

If you want to try this, here is how to do it:

  • If there is a kickoff meeting, that is the perfect starting point for the decision board.
  • But you can start it any time. Like... now.
  • You can just start it for yourself and see how it's going. See if it really solves a problem.
  • It has two lanes: "open questions" and "decisions and answers".
  • Don't do categories or other overhead. You can cluster later if it should get confusing.
  • Keep the question and the decision together.
  • If you find an open thing that you cannot or don't want to decide yourself, formulate it as a question (how, what, why, yes/no, etc.) and put on the open lane.
  • Whenever a decision or answer arrives, put it beneath the question and move to decided.
  • It helps to have PostIts on your desk and next to the decision board, so they are always handy.

In the mentioned post natum, 4 of 6 team members independently mentioned it as having been helpful. More importantly, all agreed on putting it on the team agenda to have this decision board for every feature, to start it from the beginning and maintain it more consistently.

I am really happy this thing has validated itself by helping us ship stuff. Couldn't ask for more.

So if you find yourself and/or your team in a similar situation as us, just try it out.

And if you actually do that I would really appreciate you telling me about it.