Why use a card wall?

Why use a card wall? Teams that don’t know exactly why they are using a card wall will not benefit from it. If your team is not clear on the value that a card wall provides, either (1) Agile is not suitable for them, (2) they must read this book, or (3) the team has less than three members. The biggest single reason for using the card wall is that it brings the Agile team together. The card wall improves team communication, information sharing, impediment removal and decision-making.

We have interviewed many Agile teams about the card wall with the following question: What does the card wall provide you with? Below are the answers given by: developers, testers, analysts, product owners, managers, directors, project sponsors, and scrum masters.

Question: What does the card wall provide you with?


  • The goal for the team in that iteration, or at that moment.
  • It tells me what the team is working on.
  • It tells me who is working on what.
  • It shows the bottlenecks.
  • It depicts the Scrum swim lanes.
  • It makes visible any team decision.
  • It helps to run the daily scrum.
  • It makes clear when we are not pairing.
  • If you look at it every day you know how fast the team is moving the work.
  • It tells me what everyone is working on.
  • It shows me what kind of Agile flavor the team is using.
  • I can see the tasks for a story.
  • A snapshot of the team work.
  • It tells me the kind of work that the team is doing.
  • It makes the workflow visible.
  • It depicts WIP (Work In Progress) limits used by the team.

In 2009, Mike Cohn wrote an interesting blog saying that Agile is all about micromanagement.

He explains that almost every principle and practice of Agile is there to support micromanagement. From his blog:

The daily scrum is about micro-managing the team’s daily work plans and making sure that everyone is doing what they say they’ll do.”

- Continuous integration is put in place so that the minute some developer screws up and breaks a build, it becomes known.

- Pair programming is about making sure that programmers don’t lose focus, don’t goldplate, don’t work only on the fun requirements, and that they clean things up.

Ah, but who is it that is doing this micromanagement?

It’s the team.

Yes, agile is about micromanagement, but it’s about the team micromanaging themselves and for their own benefit.
“  (from http://www.mountaingoatsoftware.com/blog/

We agree with him. Agile is all about team collaboration, responsibility sharing, clear communications, and self-management. And yes, it feels like micromanaging. In other words the team structure and work activities are visible at the wall; therefore, everyone can easily collaborate and know what everyone else is doing. The card wall is, perhaps, essential for successfully implementing “micro-management”—Agile style.