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My Family Is a Scrum Team, and I Didn't Even Know It!

11 November 2015

Stacey Ackerman
Agilify Coaching & Training


My family has been a Scrum team since long before the word Scrum first entered my vocabulary. No, we don't play rugby or build websites. It's how we work as a team that makes us a Scrum family.

Our roles are clearly defined: My husband is the product owner, I am the ScrumMaster, and our three kids make up the team. As product owner, my husband sets the vision for our family. He has always been a great visionary and long-range planner, and he keeps us in check when we veer off course from the desired end result, which, since the day we met, has been "to be independently wealthy so that we no longer are dependent on our day jobs."

"If we take a family vacation this year, that pushes our goal back. However, because the kids are at a great age to go to Disney, let's put that on the plan [road map] this year," he says.

As ScrumMaster, a.k.a "mom," my job is to be the servant leader to my team, which is composed of my senior family member Evan, who is 10; my rock star who gets everything done quickly, Eithan, 8; and my "newbie" Emily, 6, who likes to play the baby card. I help the team self-organize. "Quit fighting and work it out yourselves," I tell them.

Because the older two team members like to talk, every night at dinner we say our "cabbages and roses" — what was good and bad about the day. Each person goes around the room and has a chance to speak while the others are asked to listen. Hmm. That sounds a lot like a daily stand-up, doesn't it?

Every year on New Year's Eve we have our family's retrospective. We talk about what went well that year and what we want to improve next year. We also talk about goals and what we want to accomplish. It is not just for the parents; the kids (a.k.a. the team) weigh in on it, too.

Our Scrum family does a lot of short-term planning — a lot like sprint planning. We plan out meals for the week and post them on a chalkboard on the wall. We look at our calendar and determine how we are going to tackle all of the activities. We deprioritize the ones that don't have a lot of value. "Let's skip swimming lessons Saturday morning and pick apples together so that we can have quality family time."

The Scrum values are important to our Scrum family, too.
 

Respect

We always talk about respecting each other in my Scrum family.

"Don't tell me you don't like my cooking; that's disrespectful," I tell Evan.

"Great job listening to your sister during cabbages and roses tonight. That was very respectful," I say to Eithan.
 

Courage

We encourage each other as a family to have the courage to fail, as long as you learn something from it.

"You tried out for the talent show and weren't picked. What did you learn for next time?"

We also like to have a lot of courage with our careers. If I'm not doing or learning something new, then I am not challenging myself. I have failed many times, but each time I've learned something that has helped me grow.
 

Focus

We try to maintain focus on our long-term goal of becoming independently wealthy. Every career move and every financial move is strategic in reaching our end goal. I am notorious for losing focus and wanting short-term gains, but my husband is great at keeping the Scrum family focused.

"That new outfit is nice, but is it worth delaying our goal?" he asks me.
 

Commitment

We are committed to each other as a family. We make decisions based on what's best for the family, not for an individual team member.

We are committed to our vision not because we want to be wealthy but because we want to have the financial freedom to put our family needs first.
 

Responsibility

We try to be responsible parents. We teach our team to be responsible by having to deal with natural consequences.

"It's your job to remember to do your homework," we tell Evan.

"If you want to have a pet, you need to be responsible for taking care of her," we tell Emily.

When I learned about Scrum, it resonated so closely with me because the vision, the values, and the iterative way of approaching how we do things is the way that my family has worked for years. To me, Scrum just makes sense.
 

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.



Article Rating

Current rating: 4.5 (6 ratings)

Comments

Sayi Sarat Chandra Parvatam, CSP,CSM,CSPO, 11/11/2015 11:37:08 AM
Wow !!! Thats something interesting and you brought in different dimension of Scrum family altogether -- Thank you very much and appreciate it
Jan Sem, CSM,CSPO, 11/12/2015 9:26:12 AM
I recently stumbled upon Bruce Feiler his TED X talk about agile parenting.

https://www.ted.com/talks/bruce_feiler_agile_programming_for_your_family?language=en

And on Devoxx Belgium this talk was posted on Youtube today https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIb_3OLQaMQ
Chris Luttrell, CSM, 11/12/2015 4:50:51 PM
Wow! That is great Stacey and very nicely put. Imagine how prepared to succeed in life your kids are going to be. Keep up the great examples you are setting and good luck in all your goals.
Tim Baffa, CSM, 11/12/2015 5:04:20 PM
Very nice article on alternative applications of Scrum values.

As an aside, I believe one of the Scrum core values is Openness, not Responsibility. Still, a worthwhile attribute to have.
Erik Mautsch, CSM, 11/19/2015 8:59:07 AM
Stacey, great article, thanks. But I'm sure, as a ScrumMaster (aka mom) - sometimes it doesn't work by servant leadership and your team (kids) ... better works with a little of command `n control ;)

Scrum at my home (wife and two kids), we did not have explicit and clearly defined roles. We're using a Kanban board for holding and tracking some "learning objectives" and other school stuff - maybe, expendable to household things like empty garbage can / ... / dog walk.
Giancarlo Degani, CSM,CSPO, 12/16/2015 5:40:18 AM
Very nice article, thank you for sharing it.

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