Living a Life of Value

While Scrum includes the Retrospective as an enforced point of review and reflection after every sprint, Kanban encourages an ongoing evaluation of your work processes and flow. At any given point, you can take a step back from the busy work of life to observe and reflect on the way you are doing things to see if there’s any room for improvement.

Over the last three weeks, the World Cup was the main topic of planning, thought and conversation in our family’s life. Of course we didn’t stop using our boards – they’re entirely integrated into our lives now – but I didn’t spend much time actively thinking about how it’s transforming our lives. Until a tweet from Karen Greaves on how Scrum changed her life triggered a retrospective mood.

Value Streams (a.k.a Things That Really Matter)

In lean approaches like Kanban, value streams refer to a stream of activities that work towards producing a specific product or service for the business or customer. Since starting our family kanban, I’ve clearly started to see specific value streams emerging.

The constant visualization of activities in these streams has also shown me some profound truths about our family’s lives.

Realizing What Doesn’t Matter

I find myself questioning the real value of some of these supposed value streams. Some things may be keeping us busy, but are they really meaningful reflections of what’s important to us as a family? To our family values? If they’re not adding real value, or don’t reflect the kind of family we want to be, why are we doing them at all?

Maybe some of them should be outsourced to make more time for more valuable life goals. Why keep trying to fit in all the extra-mural drops and pickups ourselves? Get help, so we can spend more quality time with the kids.

Maybe some of them should simply be struck from our backlog. Why keep planning to really sort out the garden, when we don’t enjoy gardening? Plant grass, and move on to doing other fun projects.

Realizing What is Missing

An even more telling lesson, has been discovering how we have been limiting ourselves by not managing our lives well. There are in fact value streams that are missing from our boards. By effectively managing life’s little drudgeries through kanban, we are creating space in our lives for bigger, more fulfilling goals.

Since we finally put up the big framed photo of me getting my first degree I find myself sneaking peaks at it often. It now serves as a daily reminder of what I can achieve if I set my mind to it. It’s inspiring me to consider picking up where I left off with a few things, like getting my performer’s licentiate. I just need one year to complete it, after all.

Before Personal Kanban, some of our dreams would have remained hidden in a drawer somewhere, possibly never to see the light of day. In fact, I think I’m going to take my lead from @topsurf and turn my bucket list into a kanban board. What better way to keep track of the things in life that really matter?

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4 Responses to Living a Life of Value

  1. Jim Benson says:

    Beautiful post.

    But … Personal Kanban does suggest people do retrospectives, and be introspective. Without that, how can Kaizen happen?

    • maritzavdh says:

      I just meant that there’s no prescribed period or meeting like the Retrospective. It’s a more fluid review process in Kanban. You monitor the flow and draw conclusions from what you see. If you don’t, then Kanban is just another production line tracking system. Have modified the post somewhat to convey this more clearly. Thanks for picking it up!

  2. topsurf says:

    Wow. This is a fantastic post. Until reading this I have never looked at our (as a family) or my streams and thought about the tasks adding a value to our family. This is a total lightbulb moment for me. Maybe we do things sometimes just out of habit and perhaps we need to take a step out of the box and do some things that we normally wouldn’t do.

    Excellent, excellent, thought provoking post.

    Thank you for the bucket list mention, I will say that since I’ve made that kanban board, I’ve done more on my bucket list in the past 2 months that I had done in years before. Visualization is indeed key.

    • maritzavdh says:

      So glad you liked it! This was a light bulb moment for me, too. Time has always been so precious in our family’s life, especially over weekends, and I’ve often wondered where our time goes to.

      So when I started “seeing” (thanks to kanban!) that some of it was disappearing into tasks that we do just to keep others happy, I decided to grab that time back, and ditch the guilt that comes with not getting to all those things you “should” be doing.

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