Running Agile at Home

Agile is merely a philosophy of how to change the way we think about delivering value. Powerful ideas have grown from the original philosophy, namely frameworks, like Scrum and Kanban.

Manufacturing, product development, service development, sales, marketing, and yes, even management can benefit from the ideas espoused from Agile. Having helped all sorts of companies use the backbone of Agile to help them transform their delivery mechanisms has been not only one of the most fun things to do as a career, but we can take this stuff home too!

[Richard Lawrence has written on this before: Agile Homeschool and Agile Homeschool Update]

How to Run Agile at Home

What you’ll need (oh yes, it’s that simple):

  • Wallspace for a wallboard
  • Stickies
  • Sharpies/Pens
  • Painters tape

What you’ll need to decide:

  • How complex you want your wallboard to be
  • How to begin introducing the idea to your spouse/kids

My experience:

We’ve been running Agile at home for many years now. Here is our first idea for my office years ago:

personal-kanban-board-peter-saddington-home

You see the Product Owner? She ENABLES me to do great work!

My wife loved the idea. She even made a wallboard for me immediately…

I always de-prioritize VAC & STEAMING the floors... because I hate doing it...

I always de-prioritize VAC & STEAMING the floors… because I hate doing it…

Benefits of Running Agile at Home

The power of running Agile at home are exactly the same of running Agile at a company level:

  • Overall transparency where work effort is going
  • Tracking progress in real-time (we use the terms “physical accountability“)
  • Focus time for work (no interruptions)
  • Organizational (family) alignment
  • Delivering highest-priority and highest-value first
  • Negotiating execution order (I lose willingly most of the time :)
  • Negotiating value

Running Agile with Your Kids

Aww yeh! A tea set!

Aww yeh! A tea set!

I also use Agile with my eldest daughter!

Recently she’s been asking for an AMAZING TEA SET. She’s been begging and asking for the longest time and we decided to (as a new years resolution) to go back to utilizing Agile to help her track progress, tasks, and t0-do’s in order for her to have a successful sprint/release (so she can get the tea set)!

The Set Up

Her wallboard is on IdeaPaint and we use FrogTape (it’s much better than blue tape) to set up 3 columns: TO DO // DOING // DONE

The Sprint Goal is a TEA SET!

The Sprint Goal is a TEA SET!

 The Coaching and Sprint Planning

Co-located Sprint Planning

Co-located Sprint Planning

Describing the Sprint Goal, going through highest priorities, ordering the sprint package (prioritized and value sorted by process orientation [days]).

Verify Sprint Goal

Verify Sprint Goal!

Ensuring the team is aligned to the sprint is very important before we commit (to do our best) to deliver!

A successful release today (comes in the mail today)!

A successful release today (comes in the mail today)!

Sprint Retrospective

There is a lot of great things that come out of managing flow and work with kids using Agile/Scrum:

  • Alignment around tasks to do
  • Negotiating! – One of the best things that come out of this is teaching (early on) the skills of negotiating, positive engagement patters and communication patterns in a family. Even at a young age, my daughter negotiated many aspects of the User Stories and tasks associated with them. Even negotiating cleaning the play room a day in advance because she could knock it out sooner than expected! The Product Owner (me) was VERY pleased!
  • Understanding the value of transparency when we work, being honest, clear in communication, and executing to shared expectations and shared understanding
A very happy (future) engineer!

A very happy (future) engineer!

Summary

Running Agile at home isn’t that tough, and you can reap many powerful benefits of using Agile at home. Even in our Scrum classes, we teach principles, techniques, and methods that extend far beyond just “work.” These are powerful ideas that you can take to any endeavor, whether in extracurricular activities, clubs, home-life, and more.

It’s always fun to share my experiences with my students and clients of how we use Agile at home. Maybe this year, it could be part of your new years resolutions?

Happy 2015 everybody!

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  1. I started doing this in Saturdays when we do a “clean the house” morning. We throw post it’s on a glass door to the porch. The kids love it, negotiate, and write their own tasks sometimes.

    My wife rolls her eyes at me every time I do it, but she even gets into it and we get a ton done.

    Kid #1: Dad! Can I play outside!
    Me: is the “Do” Column clean.
    Kid #1: of my tasks, yes.
    Me: Then you know you can go play!

Peter Saddington

Peter Saddington has been in software development since 1997, starting out as a developer at Johnson & Johnson. He is a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST) and an Organizational Scientist. Prior to joining Agile For All he founded Action & Influence, which was named the Best Training Company in Atlanta in 2013. He writes for AgileScout.com, which is one of the top 20 agile software development blogs in the world, as well as being the author of The Pocket Agile Guide published in 2012. Holding Masters degrees in Counseling, Education and Religion, Peter brings an extensive educational background to everything he does. He also gives back to his community by being a volunteer counselor.

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