Reflection – Our Agile Family Seven Years In

I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic about this agile family journey of ours.

It all started in 2008 when I first thought to use Scrum to organize our family life.

Since then, we’ve certainly come a long way. Early on, we switched to Personal Kanban, a more natural fit for the ebb and flow of family life.  We have experimented with a variety of boards over the years. In the last two years, though, we’ve consistently used the following:

  • our weekend board for general chores and weekend planning
  • two practise Kanbans – one for my karate and fitness training and one for my son’s karate and guitar practises
  • a much simplified version of the checklist kanban from the boys’ toddler years
  • my Jack Bauer board – for when things are really crazy

In addition, my husband and I each maintain a board for our own professional work. And of course there’s this year’s big experiment – the kanban personal goal calendar.

Habits of Mind

Personal Kanban has become as much a part of our lives now as eating, breathing and sleeping. Where and how we use them continues to evolve based on what we need. With the boys growing up, and one heading to high school soon, I’m particularly happy that they have both internalized a number of self-organization principles. Whatever happens from here on, Personal Kanban has played a key role in our growth journey as a family.

Continuous Improvement

Of course, things will keep changing. Recently, we held a super-efficient mini-retrospective to assess if our weekend board is still working for everyone. Everybody was asked to identify aspects they find useful/not useful (10-minute time box) and to make suggestions for things to change (10-minute time box).

A number of meaningful comments and suggestions emerged around the table:

  • Continue to focus purely on the weekend, since the weekly routine pretty much takes care of itself these days.
  • Eliminate the system of card colours and labels that we’ve been using to differentiate different types of activities, e.g. Social and Outdoors. We’re not sticking to it most of the time, anyway.
  • Hold the weekend retrospective immediately at the end of the weekend, not a few days later, even if that means having it fairly early on a Sunday evening.
  • Move the boys’ checklist kanbans to their own bedroom doors, instead of having them in the communal area.
  • Drop the recently-added (third) exercise kanban that was not being used.

Coming Soon – Personal Kanban: The Teen Years

My most powerful take-away from our mini-retrospective was that my husband and I were able to model healthy ways to disagree and make decisions together.

We have less than ten years left with both our boys in the home, and equipping them to handle life as young adults with resilience and grace is a big part of what we have (left) to do.

We need every bit of help we can get, and Personal Kanban remains my tool of choice to teach visible and transparent co-operation, collaboration and communication.

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