Information Radiators

Kind of a strange title – came across it this week while checking out Status Boards used by various software development companies – I’ll show you where in a bit.

Years ago on Microsoft’s Coding4Fun site they were showing the programming involved to do some home automation and soon after I started noticing how people were buying this Orb to use in reflecting the current stock market progress and other data points simply by the color of the Orb.

Then I started seeing people on the Net showing off their Build Status indicators by reflecting whether the current software development build had failed or succeeded using color like this one below


The company Palantir even uses a Bubble machine to denote when the development build is currently broken….others still have used traffic lights….while others, like us, still resort to simple email alerts – just not the same effect I am afraid.

So months ago when I saw the status board created by the company Panic, I was blown away – this is an awesome example of a status board – tell me if you disagree – visually it is capable of relaying so much information – it’s beautiful and clean.


I have always loved the quote by Peter Druckerwhat is measured is managed”.  It’s not rocket science that the things with the most visibility get the most attention.  And that is usually the biggest challenge – finding the items which should have the most visibility.  There is a fine line separating the Hawthorne effect (one of the few things I remember very well from my high school Sociology class for some reason) and outright manipulation.  But I have found that any time I tackle any new problem, some time spent identifying the exact issues and metrics that can be used to measure those issues and how I will know when things are improving is time well spent, and helps create momentum.  Sometimes especially for very large challenges, any win, even a small win, helps build forward momentum and can keep the team’s goals in focus.  Always knowing the current priorities and goals and making sure each week ends with some of your milestones completed – maybe not all that you wanted – is how forward momentum is kept rolling. 

So back to the awesome status board displayed above… I was reading how they created it, then I come across this website where they are actually having a wallboard contest and different companies showing off what they have created…check them out, there are some great ones in there.



And their site is where I came across the term Information radiator which is a great way to describe these these status boards.


[From their site]The term was first coined by Alistair Cockburn as follows:

“An Information radiator is a display posted in a place where people can see it as they work or walk by. It shows readers information they care about without having to ask anyone a question. This means more communication with fewer interruptions.”

A good information radiator:
  • Is large and easily visible to the casual, interested observer
  • Is understood at a glance
  • Changes periodically, so that it is worth visiting
  • Is easily kept up to date

Now I have something else for my ever growing To Do list – I want to create something like this and already got a lot of ideas on what would be cool and effective to display – just have to actually do it now…time to start scrounging for a good display first.



  “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things” – Peter Drucker


About bradosterloo

.NET Software Developer working for Innovative Systems, LLC in Mitchell, SD
This entry was posted in Software Development and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Information Radiators

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