A taste of Family Scrum

Agile is rooted in empirical process control theory. Per definition the control is exercised through frequent inspection and adaptation for processes that are imperfectly defined and generate unpredictable and unrepeatable outputs.

Families fit the model perfectly in my opinion. There are no manuals when it comes to babies (which is a little more than “imperfectly defined”) and their growing up is very much unpredictable and unrepeatable. Families therefore need to continuously adapt to changes and all starts working well only when they frequently inspect the progress.

That’s why agile principles and practices fit families so well. They are clear about the outcomes, they are self-directed, listen, learn, and course correct as life evolves. They knowingly (or not) follow agile practices such as the ones below:

A weekly iteration cycle length is the standard choice. In many ways this is a fast paced environment, especially during school terms. Anything longer or shorter than a week simply won’t work.

Big Visual Charts
Online tools just do not cut it in the agile family world. Co-located teams reach for big charts that clearly show progress, risks, stakeholders, and other important information.
The iteration plan can look like this:


And here is an example of backlog including school announcements and party invitations:


Family breakfast and/or dinner is the perfect opportunity for a stand-up (or rather sit-down). See how some families are miles ahead of professional scrum teams – two stand-ups a day! Discuss what was done, what will be done, what blocks you, and support your team members. All without the stress of standing but having a nice well deserved meal.

Mood marbles
This practice is not so obvious, yet well worth regular inspection. Actual marbles are not used that often. Instead, mood is measured using a variety of metrics – the distance of the school bag throw; noise level variations; or sudden trembling of light and fixtures at home.

Show case
Less fortunate families have to resort to an annual release cycle. Holiday events such as Christmas or Thanksgiving then give them an opportunity to showcase what they achieved. The more agile teams go for continuous delivery and make sure all stakeholders are well informed via social media..

One of the most important agile practices. Usually a Sunday practice, at the end of the weekly iteration, and accompanied by a really nice food.

There are many more agile practices that are applicable in Family Scrum and following the light agile model, you can choose just those that work for you. The core principles will guide you and the surest way to success is to deliver little value often.

Any time you feel your family needs a little extra empirical process control, reach out for agile techniques, and ask the most important question: How do we get better?