Task visualization in product development - improved communication for development teams
Paper in proceedings, 2012
This paper deals with how product development teams internally communicate the tasks and the status of the work they are currently occupied with. The product development context is complex and uncertain, and it is crucial that the team can navigate through this environment to perform the tasks successfully. One way to handle this navigation is by visualizing the activities and deliverables to improve the communication of that information within the team. The method “Visual planning” aims to do just that. The method is used by product development teams to continuously monitor and control the tasks by using physical representations of the tasks. It is used by an increasing number of industrial companies, and is at the center of this study. The paper presents the results from a multiple case study of four technology based companies with internal R&D organizations that use Visual planning. The purpose of the study is to investigate the implications of the method on team communication in product development. The analysis shows that the kind of visualization that Visual planning provides encourages communication safety, reflexivity and task communication, three constructs that are positively related to team performance. A more general conclusion is that visualization can be beneficial not only when it comes to communication of product ideas, but also in the monitoring and controlling of tasks on a team level.
Product development management