In this tutorial you will learn how to use Work Groups to organize teams and get things done.
Before you can enter data into the site you will need to create an account. Go to the home page and then the "Users" tab. You will see a form for registering an account. Fill out the form and click the "Create Account" button at the bottom of the form.
Once you have created an account you can log in in the Login port let in the left column.
Now that you are logged in you can start entering data. To create a Work Group, go to the home page and select the "Work Groups" tab:
You can see there is already a Work Group for the developers working on the General Will website itself. But we want to create a new work group for our own project. To do that simply type the name of the Work Group you want to create into the text field and click "Add Group". For example, we'll create a group for the purpose of demonstrating Work Group features:
After entering the title of the Work Group you want to create click "Add Group" and the page will refresh and show your new Work Group in the list of available groups. Click on the group in the list and you will see your Work Groups home page.
We don't have any content entered yet so the group looks pretty empty. Before we enter content lets take a look at the kinds of things you'll be able to do with the Work Group. The various features of a Work Group are organized by tabs: Group Priorities, My Prioritization, Time Box, Forms.
The "Group Priorities" tab is where all of the of the Work Groups priorities (Actions, Decisions, and Information) are ordered into a list. We don't have any priorities yet so it is empty.
The "My Prioritization" tab is where you will enter new priorities and then set there relative priority in a list by moving them up and down the list to reflect their priority.
The "Time Box" tab is where you monitor progress to accomplishing your priorities. This tab is where most of the action happens and we'll have a lot more to say about it shortly, once we enter some priorities.
The "Forums" tab is where you can create various topical forums so the Work Group members can communicate about there activities.
Let's go back to the "My Prioritization" tab and define what this Work Group is going to do by entering some new priorities. The Kony 2012 Work Group wants to make a film about a Ugandan warlord. They hope the film will go viral and catalyze a global campaign to capture the warlord and bring him to justice for crimes against humanity.
To do this they have a lot of work to do so let;s start defining some of the things they might need to do. They want to film people all over the world who are working for peace and justice. Let's assume they know their is an event in Detroit that they want to film. They enter a brief description of the priority. This is something that requires action so they select "action" for "What needs to happen"? They then estimate the level effort required to accomplish this action. When al the data is entered the click "Add Priority" and the priority is added to the list.
The description of the priority is displayed along with an "A" to indicate this is an Action. The list view for a priority also displays the estimated level of effort to complete the item, in this case "5".
We keep entering priorities as needed. In the case above we are indicating that we need to make a critical decision. Decisions are prioritized along with all other types of priorities.
Another type of priority is the need to gather information about something. We indicate this by selecting "investigation" under "What needs to happen". For our Koby 2012 Work Group we need to research funding opportunities. Gathering information will likely lead to more decision and action priorities later.
Now we have a lot of priorities entered. The next step is to actually put them in priority order. You do this by dragging and dropping the priorities into the desired position on the list. Highest priority items should be at the top. Lower priority items should be pushed down to the bottom of the list. After setting the first priority the list will be ordered from 1 to how ever many priorities you have entered. Here is what the list looks like after a priority has been set:
We currently have defining our travel plans as the top priority and making a decision about filming in Europe as our lowest priority. We can add and organize priorities until we are satisfied that we have a good road map for what needs to get done.
Every member of the group will have their own "My Prioritization" tab where they can set their own preferred prioritization. Every group member sees the same list but may order it according to reflect the priorities they feel are important. The website will take all of the various group members priority lists and create a unified priority lists that reflects the "general will" of the various members feelings regarding priorities. This list is displayed in the "Group Priorities" tab.
The "Group Priorities" tab reflects the results of each group member "voting" on priorities by ordering their own list in the "My Prioritization" tab. The "Group Priorities" tab adds a check box to each item in the list. The check box is used to include the priority in the active "time box". We haven't created a time box yet so let's do that next. click on the "Time Box" tab and you will see an entry form for adding a new time box.
A time box is a way to organize a team that is working on several (preferably related) tasks. A time box has a start date and an end date. It's a good idea to keep the time boxes pretty short, maybe one or two weeks at most. That keeps the focus on getting this done and then moving on to the next group of items.
To enter a time box take a look at the highest priorities listed in the "Group Priorities" tab. Is there an apparent theme that relates all the priorities. Enter that theme into the first field. If there is no apparent theme just enter something useful into the field as it will be used as the title for the time box.
Next decide when to start working on the priorities and enter that date into the start date field. Next, decide wether you want one or two week time boxes and enter the end date for the time box. If you really want some other duration for the time box go ahead and enter whatever dates work for you.
Once you have the information entered click the "Add Time Box" button and you will be presented with an empty time box:
The Focus, Start and End dates are displayed. There is a check box for marking the Time Box as completed. There is a field for diaplyig the date the Time Box was marked complete (it's currently "In Progress").
Then there are to cryptic fields that display the "velocity" of the time box and of the Work Group. Velocity is just the average number of estimated effort points completed each sprint by the work Group. As you complete tasks and sprints you can use the velocity to help you plan for how much work you are likely to get done in the next time box. We'll go over velocity again once we have some work completed and their is an actual calculated velocity for the Work Group.
The Time Box Burn Up Chart will display a graph of the progress of the Work Group as it completes items it assigns to the Time Box. The graph displays the total work assigned to the Time Box as well as the total work that has been completed. The goal is to complete all the work and the graph will visually show you how well you are achieving that goal. The left vertical of the graph is the amount of work and the bottom horizontal are the number of days in the time box. More will be said about the graph one we give it some data to display by assigning priorities to the time box. Let's do that next.
Go back to the "Group Priorities" tab and select some priorities that you think can be accomplished within the time frame specified in the time box you just entered. When you check a priority it is added to the time box.
You can always add and remove priorities from the time box but go ahead and try to plan out a "time boxes" worth of work. When you are done switch back to the "Time Box" tab and you will see the priorities listed in the time box and the graph now displays the amount of work that needs to get done.
Switching you the "My Priorities" tab you will see the time boxes priorities have a "T" in their list item:
When a lot of people are setting priorities it is possible that your top priori tie will not be time boxed as a time box is populated from the "Group Priorities" tab.
As the Work Group members complete tasks they check them off I'm the Time Box:
Completing an item causes it to be displayed with a strikethrough to indicate that it is complete. The strikethrough will be shown on all of the lists.
When the time box is over, click the "completed" check box:
Refresh the page and you will see a "Time Box Retrospective".
Use this box to record any thoughts as to how the time box went and what could be done better in the future. A good method to use for the retrospective is called a Plus/Delta. List the things that went well, the things you would change and then the Actions you might take to effect those changes for the next time box.
Any actions identified in the Plus/Delta can be entered as new priorities. They can then be worked on in future time boxes.
After completing the time box retrospective and entering new priorities you can get ready to create the next time box. Now that we have a completed time box the Work Group has a calculated "velocity". The velocity is used to indicate how much work the group might get done in the future based on the average about of work it has gotten done in the past. The website highlights the top priorities that it thinks the group will get done. It does this by totaling up the estimated effort and comparing it to the average velocity. This estimation is only a guide. You are not prevented from adding as many or as few items as you desire.
As we just completed a time box we will need to add a new one before we can assign more items from the Group Priorities list. Look at the items in the priority list and try to identify a theme that relates the majority of the top priorities. Go to the Time Box tab and enter a new time box naming it after the new theme.
After entering a new time box go to the Time Box tab. There will be a new empty time box. The previous time box will be listed at the bottom of the Tim Box tab under "Previous Time Boxes".
You can click the time box title and view the full data for a previous time box.
Now that we have a new time box we can go back to the "Group Priorties" list and assign some priorities to it.
And once again we will have a time box with things to do assigned to it.