Beer Down Chart

Beer Down Chart
Six years back when I got chance to be a ScrumMaster
My job in one word was to ‘SIMPLIFY’
Simplify any kind of work in any kind of project with any kind of people

It was important for me to gauge the complexity of any project
And I used to ask one question:
Do you know how much work remained?
If your answer is – I DON’T KNOW, then it’s a complex project
& if it is YES I KNOW, then it’s a simple project

At this point, I need to talk about Burn Down Chart
It helped us in tracking our progress by letting us know how much work remained
It wasn’t that tough to draw
On X axis, you have days in the sprint
On Y, you have hours or story points
whatever you are using for estimations
Then there is this straight line called IDEAL LINE
Everyday we team members used to check based on our yesterday’s efforts
That how much work remained after every day’s progress
The trends talk about rest of the story
If the dot is above the IDEAL line that means we are lagging behind
And how much work could remain undone at the end of the sprint
And if the dot is below the line it says we are MOVING AHEAD
And we may end up pulling more work in the end
Well isn’t it SIMPLE?
But my team members found it boring
And that goes against the fun spirit of agile
So I came up with my own version – called the Beer down chart

Imagine, you are in a team and have a barrel of beer to finish
Every Time you finish your beer, you go to counter and ask for one more
Bartender decides what to give next
The beer is served in Pint, Pitcher, big bottles in all shapes
This resembles the size of the stories which could vary
The policies are explicit
Drink one story at a time
And always the top priority first
More than one people can finish any story
The goal is not who drank how much
The goal is as a group or team how much you could finish
We believe this group to be self organizing and motivated enough to ask for the beer
We do not push anyone to drink
Now let us understand by an example:
A team has decided to finish 15 stories
All the stories are placed in a barrel
As said, high priority story is consumed first
In a to do list we use to keep it at the top
But in the barrel the tap is at the bottom
So, in this case the high priority is at the bottom
So, this is how it works
If you have nothing to drink
You go to your product owner
You get your beer
Go back to your table
Start drinking
Once finished
Bring it back to PO
PO reviews if it really finished
O yes it does, then the beer goes down in the barrel
PO gives you more beer
And this routine follows
For you and all the team members
The beer level goes down only when a story gets finished
And not just by you taking SIPS
These sips or gulps are nothing but the tasks and sub tasks that we create to finish a story
So when you finish the story
Then only the beer goes down in barrel
So, the barrel length is the stories that team needs to finish
Its breadth is everyday team’s capacity
So, everyday team observes how many stories remained?
Or how much more to meet the commitment they put in front of them over a course of sprint
A sprint is timeboxed
Its always a bad idea to have bottles opened up and then saving it for next day
Hence if a team starts on a story then they also try to finish it in that sprint
Any bottle not opened could be used in another party
So, the stories that have not been started will move back to the backlog and could come in future sprints
All the stories that are done, we sum up their story points
And it tells us the velocity of the team
Or you could learn about their drinking capacity
By this velocity you could know that how long the team will take to finish the entire stock of beer
This stock once finished you release your product to the market

Well it made me think –
Am I encouraging drinking in my team?
Then I consoled by a thought:
Drinking is bad, and drinkers are not!
Do any crazy thing to simplify your work
I don’t know is it professional or not
But I am sure it is fine
Not in every team this will be appreciated
But you can form your Ice Tea down chart
Cold coffee down chart or whatever you want to call it
The goal is to SIMPLIFY everything
That’s all.