Information Radiators, Refrigerators, And Hoses (My Agile Life)

(This column is posted at, Steve’s LinkedIn, and Steve’s Tumblr)

More on my use of “Agile” and Scrum  in my life!  This one isn’t quite as “life-directed” as my others, but the insights come from my personal work to be more Agile.

Lately I’ve become obsessed with Information Radiators.  As I was once inspired by Failbetter game’s public posting of their sprints and my own desire to better chart workflow, that kind of fits.

If you’re not familiar with Information Radiators, the idea is that its something (a chart, a graph) that’s easily visible and communicates information. Ideally in, say, an office or a home it’d be posted somewhere so that everyone sees it and quickly gets updated. In a situation like mine it may be a weekly update or a web page with statuses.

The important thing is that Information Radiators are clear, visible, and accessible. These are very Agile.

The opposite is something I’ve heard called the Information Refrigerator, which I’m now stealing for use in any damn conversation I can use. The Information Refrigerator is a source of information you have to rummage around to find anything. I’m pretty sure you’ve encountered these from work to softwere requiring you to dig around in charts.

The Information Refrigerator is distinctly un-Agile. It’s also just annoying.

To all of this I’d like to add the Information Hose.

The Information Hose is not an easy chart, not something requiring digging, but a graph or report that just plain deluges you with informaiton to th epoint of being harmful. You’re flooded with information, soaked, and wondering what happened – and when you try to figure it out, everything is doused in data and you can’t make sense of anything.

The Information Hose is overload. it’s not Agile (though people may think it is), it’s aggression.

I’m realizing looking back at Information Refrigerators and Information Hoses, I’ve encountered way too many of them (and, sadly, built a few). They’re disruptive, unhelpful, and in a few cases just ways to avoid responsibility – dump all the info into a Refrigerator, or spray it and leave.

When you’ve got a project you want to communicate it. You make it as easy as possible, as clear as possible – and enough as possible but no more.

Yeah, I know, not as my-Agile-Life as it could be. But I wanted to share. Plus you have a great set of terms to tell people at work when they’re messing up reports!

(By the way I do plenty of books for coaching people to improve in various areas, which may also help you out!)

– Steve