Typographical search continues. Font is Marker SD.
Source: Langr, Jeff and Ottinger, Tim
Index cards are an important part of the agile experience. We use them as tokens for user stories, for task breakdowns (sometimes), for backlog generation, for estimation, for reminders, etc. Here at Agile In A Flash, we use them as cheat sheets and motivational posters. There is a surprising amount of value to having an agile card posted in your workspace. Print one of ours out, and try it for a month.
Index cards are great. Why?
- They are Low-tech and High-touch. You can put your hands on them, hand them to other people, stick them on the wall, tape them together, sort them on the desktop, etc. Having a tactile device such as an index card can make various workspace rituals possible (like moving a card from "in progress" to "done").
- They can be dynamically reorganized to order them by point cost, or functional area, or assigned teams, or originators. They can have connections one did not intend originally. This puts them a step above most software programs -- they are routinely re-purposed on the fly.
- They can hold schema-free markup. For instance, the security or documentation team can write notes on them. Developers and product owners can mark them up with issues or orderings. They can have priorities added to them. They might have none of the above, only a two-word name. They can have pictures, and notes with arrows. If you have a card and a marker, your only constraints are space and penmanship.
- They are reminders for much bigger ideas. Being small, they can hold very little content. Yet they can have vast evocative powers. Take the agile flash cards on this site for instance. Once you know a principle or practice, a card bearing as little as three words can help you do your job better.
- They are extremely portable, being small physical items. You don't have to copy them to a USB drive or mail them to your teammates. You can use them on the bus, train, or hiking trail. They don't mind being without web access and are immune to OS and browser incompatibilities. Whereever you are, they are the same.
- They are inexpensive and replaceable. Of course, you never want to be without your Agile In A Flash (tm) cards but most other cards can be lost without any real cost. If they are important, they can be easily reproduced. If not, maybe you didn't really need them. I think every day we can tear up a story card or two is a good day. They are not heirlooms to be maintained for the life of a project, and that makes them even better.