Monday, October 02, 2006

The Power of Index Cards (Part One)

I'm a huge believer in the Agile/Getting Real tenet of low-fidelity, barely sufficient, rapid prototyping solutions. Take a software migration kick-off meeting, for example. One would think that in a tech environment an analyst might pull out her/his top-of-the-line Tablet PC loaded with Visio Pro and begin constructing a series of well-formed UML 2 diagrams.

I prefer to pull out a pack of 3 x 5 index cards and a Sharpie.

There is nothing like index cards for quickly laying out the components of a system, a workflow, and taking down user story ideas. In a matter of minutes of moving them around the table playing with various relationships and connections, creating new cards for entities, processes, data stores, etc. as needed, ripping up cards as redundencies are found, the whole team is engaged, no business team members are put off by complexity of the tool (in fact, if anything they are welcomed by the simplicity), and I can then take my findings back to my desk to create a working Visio if I like.

Index cards on a white board with magnets work too. There's just simply no substitute that's as fast, simple, cheap, and effective.

Add my vote to Jason's on the Paper vs. Screen debate.

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