Agile for families


This is our boat Scrum Board. The left is the Backlog, the skinny strip of stickies to the left of the barometer is the current Sprint, and Done is a pile at the bottom.

My family doesn’t seem ready for a very strict scrum process yet, so I’m trying to get early benefits of task visibility and limited work-in-progress, without stressing too much around formalized daily stand ups, reviews or retrospectives.

We discuss the day’s tasks over breakfast in a manner that makes it part of the family routine, without calling it a formal stand-up. We chat on the week-end around our priorities for the next week, and I move stickies around, so it’s Backlog Grooming without the title. This is sneak-up-on-the-family Scrum – getting them to follow a process without making it an issue!

My son has really taken to the board, and likes to move his tasks to “done” as soon as he can. It provides a sense of achievement to see the little pile of “done” stickies growing larger. Especially on an old boat like ours, where the list of jobs seems never-ending, it is emotional sustaining to see that we are, in fact, making progress.

My husband, Kris, completes about 70% of the tasks. Unfortunately, a lot of them relate to engines or technical boat things that only he can do (at present). The board helps Kris to keep track of all the little tasks as well as the larger ones. It also helps to get jobs properly finished – Kris is inclined to do most of the task, and then leave the tidying up, or the final touches, as being “not important”. With our board, we are able to talk about the job, and assist in getting the task completely finished so that it can be moved to “done”.

I’d definitely recommend “informal” scrum to any family with a lot of tasks to manage! The benefits are:

  1. Improved task visibility (especially helpful for remembering lots of little jobs)
  2. An opportunity for the whole family to discuss priorities
  3. A sense of achievement as tasks move to done
  4. Less last-minute or crisis jobs, due to the better planning and the time taken to think through what is needed
  5. Better time allocation, as we do rough estimates on our tasks, and can see how much work needs to be done each week
  6. Everyone is able to help at their level, and select tasks suited to their skills.

Finally, I think we’re a happier family. Kris doesn’t feel that he’s the only one working (even if he still does a bit more than us), and we all feel as though we are making the boat better each day.

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2 Responses to Agile for families

  1. behan says:

    I love that you are using agile for your family (and as someone who had this at work, it totally cracks me up- in a good way). I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t work for mine but it helps me think about some good ideas for what we can bring into our own organization and communication on the boat. Thanks!!

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