Evolving the 8 Lean Wastes Snake
Written by: Francis O’Reilly, Scrum Master, Ammeon
The “Snake on the wall” technique is one that has been used by many Agile and Lean teams in various forms for many years. In its simplest form, the scrum master draws a snake’s head on a post-it on the wall, and as team members run into distractions, impediments and other frictions during the course of their work, they note it on another post-it, and join it to the head … further post-its attach to the previous, and so on, forming a snake body.
The length of the snake’s body gives an indication of how many problems there are at any moment. The scrum master collapses the snake down as the impediments are resolved.A variant of this we tried in Ammeon was the 8 Lean Wastes Snake. Here, the Snake is drawn on a large poster in the team area. The snake is divided into 8 sections, one for each of the 8 Lean Wastes (the original 7 Lean Wastes + “Skills”):
So – we decided to iterate simpler and more user-friendly. Replacing the snake with a 2×4 grid, one box for each Waste, with written examples in each of that category of waste, and crucially, that the team helped contributed to themselves, as a reminder. Now we have lots more space for post-its, along with some written reminders of grounded examples relevant to them.
While engagement is still growing with the new Wastes Grid, going through the exercise of capturing the team’s own examples and a few reminders during the course of the sprint, helps capture and crucially visualise the current friction points.