Setting the stage for Agile Publishing with a War Room

One of the key things to do when adopting Agile Publishing is to bring all the people needed for the project within one room: the War Room. Only in that room, without the usual borders of internal departments and without job titles and hierarchies true collaboration between different disciplines can emerge. The war room by itself is loud, there are ongoing conversations between the people in the room. No one is just working in its own “silo” — everyone is required to think outside of his box, all the time.

When I talk with people on how to adopt agile methodologies into their publishing and media production workflows having a war room is always a great first step for me. In a good environment many of the other ingredients for agile working will follow almost immediately when all the team members are in the same room.

The good news is that there is a very easy way to set up your own war room. You don’t have to rebuild your office for that — at least not at the beginning 😉 Just use your meeting room as a war room for the next project!

So all you need is already their. Just block your meeting room for lets say a week, replug the computers of the team members and start. That way for instance a designer, a frontend developer, a copywriter and an information architect sit in the meeting room and build a website. Together. At the end of the week there’s a product you can use, feel, test and iterate upon.

Of course, if you have laptops and portable phones in your company the setup in the war room is even quicker.

One more thing to note: The agile team needs to use the walls! So despite all the nice pictures you might have in your meeting room — make sure that the team has enough flipcharts and pin boards available. They need them to brainstorm ideas, quickly sketch prototypes and to keep track of the projects progress.

At the end of the day you should be able to quickly see the difference between agile and non-agile teams just by looking at their rooms 😉

To sum it up heres your quick start into the agile publishing war room. You need

  • A meeting room
  • The computers (deployment works fastest with laptops)
  • Flipcharts
  • Pin boards
  • Post-its and other workshop materials
  • And of course a well-mixed team from different departments

Once you made yourself familiar with the idea of meeting rooms as better working environments you can start to remodel your office space to only consist of meeting room-like places with flexible workplaces …

What experiences with Publishing War Rooms do you have?

— Georg Obermayr


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