Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Parent's Daily Scrum

Thanks to Mike Vizdos
One of my earliest and most successful attempts at applying Scrum at Home emerged quite by chance.

When I started out as a Scrum coach, I worked a lot from home. My wife suggested we go for a walk every day. This seemed like a good idea until I figured out that her vision was more like athletic training while mine was more a stroll along the river. I needed a way to change the vision (without sounding like a wimp), so I objected, 'But I want to talk to you while we're walking! Let's take a more leisurely pace and talk to each other.' It took some convincing, but she did agree to a discussion friendly pace.

This meant I actually had to think of something to talk about. Panic! Then the daily scrum came to the rescue! I asked her: "What did you do yesterday?" "What's the plan for today?" "What's getting on your nerves?" I also answered the same questions.

What did we talk about? Daily life mostly. The challenge of the week posed by our kids. Scheduling our lives and our kids' lives. You have a concert this week? Wait a minute, I have a networking event that evening. We need a babysitter!

I did not tell her the source of the questions or even that this had anything to do with Scrum (until much later). I did adapt the rules of Scrum to the situation. The time frame wasn't strictly limited to a span of one day in the past to one day in the future. Neither the questions nor the scope of the answers were so rigidly defined as in Scrum. Our time box was not a certain number of minutes but a softer "we want to start the day by 9am". We did however generally split our conversation into a discovery phase, in which we answered the three questions, and a discussion phase, in which we talked about the answers.

This regular dialog helped us synchronize our lives, identify and resolve potential issues early, and generally improve the harmony in the family. The improvement in harmony in the family was perhaps the most striking. We had always understood each other pretty well, but modern life is busy and pulls everyone in different directions, and this had been quite a source of tension for us. The regular communication did wonders for reducing or eliminating much of that conflict.

In my coaching, I have often noticed that improved cooperation and more fun on the job are among the first benefits of switching to Scrum. Well, it looks to me like the daily scrum is a major source of that improvement and it seems to work that way at home as well.

I'm thinking I should try these questions with my kids at the breakfast table...

No comments:

Post a Comment