How to choose visual management tools

How to choose visual management tools

When it comes to choosing visual management tools it’s the little things that matter most.

When making your next purchase decision on how to support your visual management needs, please remember that effectiveness trumps efficiency.

The benefits of effectiveness are up to 7 times higher than the benefits of efficiency.

Visual ManagementEfficiency refers to how much do I need to pay to get the basic functionality. For example I need a writing surface that is 2m high x 6m across. I could do this with a number of products from whiteboard paint through to tempered glass walls all having a different price.

Effectiveness on the other hand will talk to things such as user experience – ease of writing, cleaning and capture – and the better the experience the happier your employees and more useful the purchase becomes.

So, like so many things that have used the Iceberg as an analogy, the same is true with your choice of work walls – the benefits of effectiveness are up to 7 times greater than the benefits of efficiency

I witnessed this in a fit out in Singapore where the walls were painted with whiteboard paint to be used for Scrums. The users didn’t embrace the walls because of the difficulty in cleaning so their adoption of Agile PM stalled.

Who knows if that meant a whole lot of lost opportunity but I would back effectiveness every time?

So how do you choose the best visual management tools for your organisation? Here are three things to understand and consider:

  1. How different writing surfaces perform over time.
  2. The small things matter disproportionally to user experience.
  3. The intersection of workspace, process and people is where you really make BIG gains.

If you want to know more about designing for effectiveness in an Agile world, call Vince Asdagi on 0414 831 894.

What is an ‘Agile’ environment?

What is an ‘Agile’ environment?

Have you noticed that the word ‘Agile’ is being used a lot these days?

It seems to be the ‘shiny new’ term. But different people mean very different things when they use ‘agile’ in the context of agile environment or office design.

agile environment

Peter Andrew from CBRE shares his thinking which we aptly named the “Urgh” matrix.

To seek clarification, together with our Asian business partner (MTM) we held a series of conversations with leading Property Strategists, Interior Designers, Constructors and Corporate Workplace Leaders on agile environment.

We had nine sessions in total with over 100 attendees from organisations including CBRE, HASSELL, Gensler, Aedas, MMoser, Space Matrix, 8build, OSCA and Merx among others.

After introductions each session started with a break apart exercise where we asked each group member to use work walls to answer a series of questions related to agile environment.

For example:

  • What is an agile environment?
  • What are the implications for office design?
  • How is an Agile office different from an Activity Based Working (ABW)?
  • What’s changed in Activity Based Working (ABW) design in the last 20 years?

There were some common themes and many interesting perspectives.

Peter Andrew from CBRE as an example, emphasised the role of choice & performance in considering design for individual space and shared space. We called it the “Urgh” matrix.

agile environment

What also came through strongly in the feedback was how old ABW is. People are wanting a new word. Agile seems to be it.

To the property strategists in the sessions, what’s really changed from the early ABW implementations is the level of uncertainty the future holds and the increasing vulnerability of organisations.  This works strongly against the cost and timelines of traditional property projects.

‘Agile environment’ to these folks more flexibility in the investment. The external boundaries of the firm are blurring with work taking place everywhere not just the office and the full time employees base eroding to more part time/contract roles and more outsources services. At the macro level this is leading to the boom in co-working spaces, increasingly focussed on the big corporates (eg. WeWork) as well as smaller firms.

To the Interior Designers and workplace leads in the sessions, Agile environment is all about increased flexibility inside the buildings. Less walls. More multi purpose spaces, more reconfigurable furniture options. Here Agile is being increasingly used as the new word for ABW or new style ABW.

Agile Origins

After the breakout work, we looked at what Agile means to anyone with a background in IT and how this Agile way of working, it impacting outside of IT.

To a purist, Agile refers to ‘Agile Method’ – a way to get big complex software projects delivered more quickly and cheaply. The manifesto for Agile development”  was introduced in 2001 (see Appendix). It was a response to a crisis within the industry over huge cost and time over runs on massive IT projects.

The ‘Agile Method’ quickly spread to have a profound impact on the way that large software development projects were run.  to be developed. The 12 principles upon which it was based (see Appendix A) included:

  • Co-location of cross functional teams
  • Breaking big things down into smaller pieces that are completed quickly
  • Using walls to create analogue infographics on the status of a project (Kanban boards)
  • Holding daily stand up (scrum) meetings

The success of this approach to large complex projects has meant that these ideas are now being adopted more broadly, not just on IT projects. So for many, an agile environment is a place where this ‘Agile method’ is being used. You’ll know immediately if you’re in this kind of space because you’ll see post it notes and other stuff all over the walls and windows.

So, our first clear conclusion around “Agile office” is that it means very different things to different people. It could be they are referring to more flexible business models, the generic meaning of the word, or it could be more specifically referring to the agile working approach – based directly or loosely on the IT project management (PM) methodology.
agile environment

The impact of these Agile work methods is Office designs that have more focus on project based work, often with cross functional teams.  Agile method has shown that the most complex and difficult work requires moving away for ‘business as usual’ electronic collaboration (email, phone calls, video conferences) to intense face to face collaboration – co-location and working analogue.

agile environment

When things get really difficult – go Analogue

As automation and Artificial Intelligence eat away at repetitive and low value tasks, we humans have had to master more effective digital collaboration.  But when things get really difficult, we have to move back to face to face activity and develop deeper personal relationships.  Hence the increasing adoption of these kinds of spaces in the more modern office designs.

But this way of working is very messy. The other big conclusion from all the feedback in the workshops was that it’s important to not get carried away with making all office space “agile”.  How much you need, where, depends.  At the industry level, some industries are more vulnerable to disruption than others.

agile environment

Source: McKinsey & Co

Within businesses, the requirement for creative problem solving with face to face teams varies a great deal within different functional groups. Some functional areas need stability. Other areas need to be more dynamic. Project teams and x functional groups tend to be on the higher end of the scale. Creative spaces need to be abundant in some areas and frugal in others. The ‘Agile office’ is now increasingly focussed analogue working as well as digital.

agile environment


People mean different things when they use the term Agile. Ask, don’t assume.

Modern ABW implementations are different from a decade ago because of increased uncertainty. An Agile ABW style office could well make use of external providers of co-working spaces to supplement their core.

Within offices, there is a greater emphasis on flexibility and more creative co-design space. These spaces use of agile working techniques – colocation of project cross functional project teams and analogue visual management. Each functional group and cross functional group will have different needs which need to be assessed as part of the design.


Appendix: The Manifesto for Agile development

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.
Client Education: Understanding different whiteboard surfaces

Client Education: Understanding different whiteboard surfaces

Choosing a whiteboard: surface quality is critical

Article Summary: When it comes to whiteboard surface, the User Experience will become less enjoyable the longer you use products with surfaces other than glass and ceramic steel. This may or may not be an issue for you but its good to consider when next considering your requirements for visual management.

We hear a lot about User Experience in today’s tech world, but how many of us think about the user experience when it comes to workplace furniture?

I’m sure you think about chairs and wouldn’t dream of putting uncomfortable or non-ergonomic chairs in your workspace. So why scrimp on products that drive change, creativity and impact the user experience?

Ok, so what am I talking about?

I’m talking about whiteboards – or, as we call them, work walls – which are now being used extensively as tools for change with processes like Agile Project Methodology and Design Thinking.

The humble whiteboard has been reinvented to a work wall and it’s likely that most of the creativity and breakthroughs are coming from people standing or sitting in front of a work wall that allows your employees or clients visualise and explore ideas with colleagues.

Missed Opportunity?

However, we believe there is a missed opportunity to create higher levels of engagement, return and user experience by understanding… should the solution be fixed or mobile, what is the right surface, and how much do I need for the business to get real lasting benefits?

Tackling all of these dimensions in one article is too much, so I am starting with the easiest and the one that has the most impact on user experience – the surface.

Whiteboard Surface Types

whiteboard surfaceIn regard to whiteboard surface quality, it all comes down to the:

  1. Polish on the surface
  2. Flatness of the surface

There is a great degree of cost difference in whiteboard surfaces. And within each surface there are quality differences that also have an impact on user experience. The main thing to understand is that some products get better with use and cleaning, and others get worse.

Glass Surface

Can be coloured, magnetic but requires very strong magnets, is easy to clean even if someone uses a permanent marker. Easy to write on but needs the highest quality marker pens. Not great for Post it Notes. Won’t dent or scratch. Refer Clarus Go! Mobile glassboards

Ceramic Steel (glass particles bakes on steel sheet)

Available in white, cream and black, highly magnetic easy to clean and easy to write on, able to remove permanent markers and great for Post it Note. Won’t dent or scratch. Refer Y? System work walls

Powder Coated Steel

Available in white, highly magnetic, not so easy to clean if marker left on board for long periods and will ghost (marker residue build up), easy to write and draw, great for Post it Note. Can be scratched and could dent.

Laminate Steel (polymer layer applied to steel sheet)

Available in white, becomes difficult to clean over time and ghost, easy to write, magnetic and good for Post it Note. Can be scratched and dented. Refer Vista whiteboard

Laminate (polymer layer applied to a non-metal surface)

Available in white, becomes difficult to clean over time and ghost, easy to write and good for Post it Note. Can be scratched and dented.

Whiteboard Paint

whiteboard surface

Available in white, becomes difficult to clean over time and ghost,  writing is more onerous, and not good for Post it Note. Can be scratched and dented.

For further discussion or queries about our whiteboard and work wall range please contact Vince Asdagi on 0414 831 894.

Video: The next frontier of productivity and innovation.

Video: The next frontier of productivity and innovation.

Interview with Peter Brady at Worktech, Sydney 2017

Collaboration & Mobile Work Walls

Collaboration is all about the next frontier of productivity and the next frontier of innovation.

Now if you want increased productivity and innovation, what you are going to have to do is solve complicated difficult, conflict laden problems.

Getting people to be candid, but also considerate to the feelings of others, is the critical challenge that companies face if they want to get further with where they are going with becoming more efficient or importantly (re)inventing themselves more quickly, developing products more quickly and being more agile.

So our mission… is to help with that in a very practical way.

What we do is we say to companies, “Right, you want to see different behaviours in the meeting rooms, you can’t do that with existing meeting rooms.”

Mix it up, take out some rectangular tables and enable stand-up meetings in those rooms.

Our product is Mobile Work Walls so what we enable is for people to work vertically, to put stuff on walls, to move around a lot.

We advocate for people to take Work Walls out of meeting spaces and put them everywhere, use under-utilised spaces, places where people can just stop and noodle something on a wall.

An example

At Westpac, for example, in their new offices at Barangaroo, they have a nice open plan template where they have got Work Walls all throughout the open plan areas.

So people don’t book meeting rooms as much there. They just have spontaneous stand-up meetings and the agile working model of having a Kanban board – which is a big infographic that sums up in an analogue way (beautifully designed these things) – that shows the gantt chart and the cluster diagrams. Something everyone can gather around and see the common purpose that they’ve got.

There are a hundred Kanban boards throughout Westpac at the moment and with a very practical tool like that they have achieved some really big things.

Innovation “capability” hubs

In these big collaboration hubs – these innovation hubs – don’t just see them as a place where people go to do projects (which is what a lot of companies do), they’ve got a big open space and they use our Work Walls to put project teams in there for a week or a month.

[You should] use them as a place that incubates new kinds of behaviour. Teach people how to bring a group in and get them relaxed and how to stand up in front of walls so there’s basic facilitation skills that we also train companies in – to make better use of those spaces.

And where you see companies seeing that, not as a place where you go, but as a capability hub, where people come and learn new skills and then take them out to other parts of their offices – that’s where you get the biggest bang for buck basically.

Book your free space assessment by Collaborative Design Space.

Video: How to create an environment for effective collaboration.

As an innovative company, it’s your job to create an inspiring workplace. Otherwise, in the age of disruption, you’ll fall behind.

But how do you create the perfect environment for effective collaboration? Somewhere flexible, creative and motivating for your staff?

Watch our video to learn how, or keep reading below…

At Collaborative Design, we’ve created innovative Work Walls to stimulate high performing, happier teams.

Work Walls help people to develop new, more collaborative ways of working and learning.

Directing the room from a front-facing whiteboard re-enforces outdated ideas about hierarchy. Instead, you can have your whole team collaborating around adjustable work walls.

Run stand-up meetings to keep your teams engaged. Now they can visualise solutions to complex issues and create new opportunities, together.

In traditional offices, rooms are either under-utilised or overbooked, wasting time as your staff seek available rooms. With Work Walls, you will create abundant, semi-private meeting spaces, easily, wherever you want.

Work Walls can be used to create semi private meeting spaces within open plan desk areas and within Large Multi Purpose Spaces. Perfect to create a visible beating heart of collaboration, within your organisation.

Operating in Australia and Singapore, with over 50 iconic clients including Google, Westpac and Standard Chartered – Collaborative Design Space are industry-leaders in driving innovation and collaboration.

Enquire Now to learn how you can transform your workplace with Work Walls today.


Y? System: So much more than a whiteboard.

Y? System: So much more than a whiteboard.

Our Y? System is a 3-in-1 agile methodology tool designed to maximise space, productivity as well as your equipment budget.

agile methodology
Does your space need…

  1. A mobile magnetic whiteboard,
  2. A visual management system, and
  3. A space partitioning system.

Y? is all of these things. So there is no longer a need to invest in separate tools when the Y? System offers a complete solution.

agile methodologyAnd the versatility of the Y? System continues to include a plethora of different configurations by interconnecting the individual boards.

Create straight, angled or curved configuration – without loss of stability. Create war rooms, plenary, Y-shape etc etc.

Key features of Y? System:

– Large vertical surface (4m²+)
– Can be nested for compact storage
– Quality writing surface, easy to clean (no “ghosting”)
– On wheels for good mobility
– Durable & magnetic Polyvison e3 ceramic steel
– Frame and side bars can be customised in a wide range of colours
– Also available with acoustic foam on one side

More about the Y? System >>

The Y? System is used by the following successful companies:

agile    agile  agile