After giving a tech talk in our Agile Community of Practice about Agile Software Inception, I had an inspiring conversation with a colleague. We were talking about information radiators. She pointed me out to this concept of Information Refrigerators vs Information Radiators.

Information Refrigerators

A refrigerator is a place where you conserve goods. In the physical world we store food or other similar goods in it. In the digital world we store information. You know it is safe there. The refrigerator freezes its content. Normally it is in a central and well know place. Everybody know that if they want to consume a information they can:

  • open the refrigerator
  • search for the information they want
  • consume it

Information Radiators

An information radiator is an always visible piece of a vital information. It is positioned in a strategic place. Like a traffic light in the physical world. It always displays a vital information (can you cross or not). It is positioned in a place where the information matters (in a corner?). And the information is displayed in a way that is easy to consume (red, amber, green).

Some examples of information radiators are:

  • Continuous Integration boards on TVs
  • a team's Kanban/Scrum board on a whiteboard
  • A product roadmap in a wall

Radiators vs Refrigerators

I believe there is space for both in companies/projects. If you keep too much detail in an Information Radiator it will be hard to consume. If you don’t use information radiators and expect everybody to check what is in the refrigerator you will end up with information that will expire in the refrigerator and nobody will notice. Or worse, you will have people starving for that piece of information that is hidden in the back of your refrigerator. And you, are you using your refrigerator as a radiator? Or are you irradiating too much details?