Agile for Families

We can run projects with large and complex deliverables and distributed and diverse teams using Agile. Why not families?

Years ago, I watched a TED talk by Bruce Feiler on Agile Methodology for families. I loved the idea. My kids were grown up by the time I saw this idea, however, I started talking to other parents about it. To my surprise, several of my friends were implementing some of the techniques used in one form or the other.

When my kids were younger, we had dinners together for the most part - and that was the “Standup” time - albeit sitting down with a long-form exchange of information. We exchanged stories and learned all about each other’s day. A friend of ours who had lost touch with us for a while come to one of these dinners and was struck by how “Americana” it seemed. This half American half Indian family with its vegan dinners sharing daily stories was Americana…. but I digress.

During said dinner, my son, who then was maybe 5 or 6, kept fidgeting with a glass of water, precariously set very close to the table’s edge. we warned him a couple of times about knocking off the glass of water, but the information was not well received. Predictably, water was spilled, and glass shattered. We made sure that the kids were OK and proceeded to clean up and continue eating. Our friend was amazed and shared that in his own home growing up, voices would have been raised and punishments doled out.

The similarities to the Agile methodology here are not the shortness of the meetings, but rather the focus on iteration and improvement, and not playing the blame game. From the 12 Agile Principles:

Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need and trust them to get the job done.

In the TED Talk, and in my conversation with other parents, the emphasis is on daily touch points and daily intention. Here’s an example:

Agile Standup Version

Agile Family Version

What did you do yesterday?

What did you learn/accomplish today?

What will you do today?

What are you planning to create tomorrow?

What (if anything) is blocking your progress?

What (if anything) is blocking your progress?

These are great places to start. It is a great way to connect, focus and support your team - your family.

And while we are here. let’s take a look at all the agile principles:

  1. Customer satisfaction by delivering the software early.

  2. Accept the change requirement, even in the later stage of development.

  3. Delivering the software frequently.

  4. Daily cooperation between business people and developers.

  5. Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted.

  6. A face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication (co-location).

  7. Working on the project rather than planning.

  8. Sustainable development, able to maintain a constant pace.

  9. Continuous attention excellence and better design.

  10. Maximizing work efficiency.

  11. The best design, the best solution, and the architecture emerged from self-organizing.

  12. Regularly meeting to discuss the team’s improvement.

How can we incorporate these into our family? What do you see in these principles that could work for your family?

I would love to hear your Agile for Families ideas. Connect with me to see how you can establish Agile methodology for your family.