Agile Family Guy

May has been dedicated to Collaborative Leadership Team graduates and their Scrum stories outside of their “day job”. We close this month with Paul Carter’s “Agile Family Guy”. Enjoy!

January 17, 2014: life changed forever as baby #6 arrived to disrupt the tranquil Carter household. Ok. Not exactly tranquil. Disorganized chaos is closer to reality. 5 kids: sports, academics, scouts, and church were running us ragged.

With our new arrival, a light bulb came on! I’d had success as a Scrum Master and Agile Coach & Trainer since 2008. Why don’t I practice what I preach in my personal life? And the Agile Family Guy was also born!

What does an Agile family look like? Daily Scrum at 7:00 AM. Sprint Planning and Retrospectives on Sunday afternoons. User story workshops periodically and quarterly release planning. Agile Parenting 101: there is no other way. I’ve trained 500+ in agile boot camps and surveyed every attendee with a teen age child. Would you believe that I have not run into a single parent who had a Working Agreement and shared Definition of Done with their teenager? The conversation typically goes like this:

Me: “Have you ever asked your 15 year old to clean their room?”

Class Attendee: “Yes.”

Me: “When they said it was done, was it really done?”

Class Attendee: “Not a single time.”

Me: “That is because you didn’t have a story with good acceptance criteria and input from the Product Owner. Have your children write stories for the household chores backlog and have them consult with the Product Owner so that they understand what done looks like. Then hold a Sprint Review for the Product Owner, and other stakeholders, to provide feedback.

My spouse was skeptical when I wanted to introduce Scrum to the family. She came back home from an out of town event to a storyboard on the wall and a completed Sprint 1. She was definitely a fan of the results!

In the early stages of our Agile adoption came home from work to find the word “DOLL” on a sticky note in the impediment column. My 5 year old daughter proudly pointed out a loop hole in Scrum. She remembered that impediments prevent her from reaching her commitments. I was proud of her too… but continued her education. “Kelsi, I see you have an impediment.” “Yes, Daddy. I was distracted by my dolls and could not get any work done. I was impeded.” I replied, “Let me share with you what a ScrumMaster does…they remove impediments!” Her eyes grew to the size of saucers. Funny thing, there has been no doll impediment raised by Kelsi since.

By using Scrum outside of I.T., I have discovered that Scrum is agnostic to the type of work it is applied to. I have been able to now help operations, legal, compliance, H.R., sales and marketing teams learn to use Scrum to increase productivity to work on the right things that provide the most value for their business.

This weekend my son gave the Valedictorian speech and closing remarks at his high school graduation. He would be the first to say that Scrum helped immensely to receive this achievement and plans to continue his agile journey as he starts college. Stay tuned for more stories from the Agile Family Guy!

Paul Carter is an Agile enthusiast with a passion for developing cross-functional, collaborative teams to iterate work that delivers real value.  He is an advocate for using agility as an enterprise business strategy, transforming individuals, teams and departments across an enterprise including I.T., sales, marketing, legal, H.R., and operations.

Paul works within the community teaching religion classes to high school students and is actively involved in youth programs.  He is married with 6 children and enjoys roller coasters and water parks. He is known among his peers as the Agile Family Guy: using agile practices to keep the home organized and productive!

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