Have you ever heard this: “How could you possibly use stickies? How in the world would you ever know if something’s been on your board too long?”
My new friend Mike Burrows (@asplake) is toying with a new concept he calls DOTS – “Dots On The Stickies”. That has a nice fractal-ring to it, don’t you think? I can’t wait for his new DOTS Theory to be published. The basics of the technique have been used, more or less, since Kanban’s domination by 3M. Teams are simply trying to determine how long a stickie has been “Blocked” (typically) or in a particular queue where they want to measure aging. The basic premise is you simply put a dot on the stickie every daily standup to show visually that its aging. (Measuring those DOTS across the entire board is where Mike’s theory starts)
…And that’s great for queues, but how do you tell if it’s been in the entire value stream too long?
Enter the Stickie Half-Life Theory. If your stickie no longer “sticks”, it’s been on the board too long. …Whoa! Mind explosion, right? My theory is that a stickie’s efficacy (meaning it still sticks) is around 8 weeks and it’s half-life is the point where it’s likely been there too long. The exponential rate of stickie decay means that at four weeks (stickie half-life), the stickie will begin to fall off the board regularly. It is at this point we should begin to worry about a stickies age in the value stream.