20 October 2017

Card Numbers

Ever notice that teams who number cards stop talking about cards and start talking about numbers?

Repeatedly I see this happen. A card is placed in a system like JIRA where it is assigned a number. Lets say AB-123. The card has a concise and meaningful title, a complete description, and all the other goodness that a card should have. Prior to being entered into the card tracking system the card was referred to as 'Spell Check Project Name Field'.

Notice, once it is placed in JIRA it is forever after referred to as AB-123. 

The problem that then occurs is that the team stops talking about it as 'Spell Check Project Name Field', it becomes an abstract concept AB-123. As an abstract concept the team stops understanding and communicating it's meaning when they discuss it. As a consequence two things happen; the impact of the story isn't something that can be internalized or reasoned about and a majority of the time the team can't remember what is on AB-123, so when it comes up, nobody really understands what is being discussed.

So here is some advice, stop numbering cards and or don't allow people to talk about cards in terms of the number. Rather, enforce a behavior of discussing cards in terms of what they actually do/mean.