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For the past few weeks, I’ve observed several situations at clients where the tools they were using to manage their projects were the center of several verbal assaults. Project management tools are great, don’t get me wrong, however, these tools are often times used as change agents instead of capturing the actual processes that are taking place within an organization.

What do I mean by this you may ask? Well, let’s take an example where an organization has hopped on the Scrum bandwagon. They have heard the propaganda, read the benefits that Scrum can bring to an organization without really reading the label so to speak. However, instead of really working to incorporate the values and principles, they purchase a tool and tell their workers to go have some standups and put their work in the tool. A recipe for success right?

All sarcasm aside, sometimes the tool becomes the culprit of too many failed attempts to do something (regardless of methodology). The tool should be an enabler, something that is almost effortless, or when effort is needed, the value that this effort brings is very well known. No one wants to do work just to do work.

At times, I like to just go back to the basics with physical, highly visible methods. There is something refreshing about writing what needs to be done with a sharpie and a sticky note. There is also something refreshing about physically moving a sticky note to done, crumpling it up, and tossing it in the trash…much more so than dragging a pixelated image across the board.

I’m definitely not against tools. In fact, I use them extensively. However, tools without fundamentals are cumbersome and become a hindrance.