Although these tools would likely be easy to find in an office before the 1980s, it is uncommon to find them lying around today. I recommend ordering them in advance, as you will probably find them useful during the first couple days of an agile team’s existance.
All of these items can be purchased in person using a combination of a retail home improvement store, office supply store, and automotive parts store.
Vinyl Chart Tape
Vinyl chart tape is remarkably difficult to find in your average brick and mortar office supply store. You will sometimes find the paper masking tape style, which is a very poor choice for use on a dry-erase board. It is also relatively expensive unless you buy it online in bulk.
Here are a few I have ordered in the past. There is nothing special about this brand. They all seem rather generic. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are all made in the same factory somewhere.
Vinyl chart tape is readily available at most any automotive parts store in a variety of colors and widths. The trick is to ask for pinstriping tape. A few examples from Napa are listed below.
- The 3M products are usually much better than the other brands.
- The Post-it “Super Sticky” versions stay on a dry-erase board much better than others.
- Pick whatever color and size works for you. The key thing is to recognize the “Super Sticky” branding by Post-it and know to look for it.
- Extremely handy to have around. No agile team with physical boards should be without it.
- A longer inexpensive level is handy when marking out a large whiteboard.
- You can sometimes find levels marked as rulers as well.
- A basic retractable tape measure is extremely useful when laying out physical information radiator boards. This one has both metric and English markings.
- A simple, short ruler of some sort is useful as well. This engineers’ scale is inexpensive and should suit any needs you might have.
Long Straight Edge
Having a simple, long straight edge handy can be very useful. There is nothing special about the specific brand choice here. You are likely to find that only a few companies make the longer straight edges.
- Empire Level 4004 48-Inch Aluminum Straight Edge
- Good for large Post-it pads
- A little short when laying out a large board
- Relatively easy to handle
- Empire Level 4006 72-Inch Aluminum Straight Edge
- A bit unwieldly
- Good enough for most vertical straight edge needs
- A bit short when you need a straight edge for marking long horizontal lines on a wall
- Empire Level 4008 96-Inch Aluminum Straight Edge
- Long enough for anything you are likely to need
- Quite unwieldy compared to the shorter versions
- Would be a good companion to the 48-inch straight edge
Churchill’s Cabinet War Rooms
People have successfully created very effective information management systems using very old-school techniques. If you find yourself in London, it is well worth the time to visit Churchill’s cabinet war rooms for a great example of effective information radiator design.