As part of our confinement due to COVID-19, I am keen to share with you some practices to help you in your daily family management. Let’s not hide it; the weeks ahead will be complicated. In this post, I suggest an approach to Agility that you can apply at home, on a daily basis, with your children, your teens, or just your sweetheart.

It goes without saying that all this is not a miracle recipe but, in these sometimes difficult days, in a context that is prone to cause anxiety for you and your family, hanging on to routines that emphasize speech, introspection and empowerment may bring you a little more peace of mind.

Agility, you’ve probably heard of it . . .

It is true that Agile management approaches have been around for several years now (in different sectors but mainly in IT.) The best known framework (Scrum, not to name it) helps us, especially in the context of software development, to operate by iterations in order to deliver complex increments.

On the other hand, do you know that you can also be Agile on a daily basis? And especially in the context of your family life? I wish I could have invented it, but several sources were already referring to it almost five years ago . . .

Yes, Agility is not only found at work. Since it is above all a state of mind, some even speak of a life philosophy; Agility can apply to several spheres of our lives. After some research, I was able to find quite interesting testimonials from several Scrum Masters, coaches or even developers who decided to apply certain elements of Agile frameworks to their daily lives.

Family life can easily be compared to teamwork; it is a perfect context to try frameworks like Scrum or the Kanban method.

How?

Isn’t it every parent’s dream to be less stressed, more organized, to have better communication with their children and especially that they be self-organized? Well, everyday life Agility can get you there . . .

Assuming that children are examples of empiricism, they de facto adopt Agile behaviour. It allows them to grow, evolve and build. They are sometimes even much more comfortable than us, adults, with getting outside their comfort zone!

The empowerment of children, even at a young age, is easily achieved thanks to certain rituals that we can borrow from Scrum and Kanban. We can get them to participate more actively in family life thanks to a family Kanban board displayed on the wall and presenting them household chores management as a game they can quickly get a taste for.

Being able to take responsibility for themselves, to choose their task and to participate in the choice of performance conditions, as well as physically being able to show that it has been accomplished, encourages children to take a more active part in their lives within the family. This also makes them independent more quickly. All of that also facilitates positive reinforcement, which can be simply visual by means of stickers, magnets, etc. This technique is already used in certain kindergarten classes.

For older children, you have tools like Trello that allow you to display your board virtually and modify it directly online.

SCRUM

Certain ceremonies taken from Scrum correspond to what many parents already do naturally on a daily basis with their children. They react positively because they generally like the implementation of rituals which give them confidence.

Therefore, we can think of an adaptation of the Daily meeting to carry out with your family. A few minutes to spend together in the morning or as soon as everyone comes home from school and work to listen to each other and share the day’s events. The rhythm of the school or work week resembles that of an iteration, so it may also be a good idea to make weekly updates with the family, as an adaptation of the retrospectives.

Like a team retrospective, this family retrospective will allow you to share your successes, your difficulties, the points to improve and what to plan during the coming week. We must see this meeting as a review of the past week.

For parents as well as for children, this ritualization forces us to communicate and adapt continuously to the family’s needs, but also to individual ones. Introspection is good!

The fun aspect of these rituals can also allow new bonding moments with your children. Experimenting with new concepts together will lead you to create new ties.

What about Leadership?

Management 3.0 is defined as a state of mind to help workers manage their organization, a way of looking at different work systems through tools, practices, but also games.

It is assumed that the performance of the system is the result of the organization and not of the individual. Management 3.0 will therefore enable offering the right solutions to obtain better leadership within the organization.

As I mentioned above, there is only a small step between family and team because they operate in a similar way. Several interesting initiatives can thus be drawn from this state of mind. They are also applicable on a daily basis.

Delegation Poker could become your new ally to clarify everyone’s responsibilities. It’s a good collaborative game that could be adapted for children, but especially good when used with a slightly older audience like if you have teenagers or young adults at home. Cohabitation can sometimes be a little more challenging during this period of their lives when they test limits a lot.

Talking openly about the level of delegation you are ready to accept by choosing one of the seven levels offered creates a dialogue about decision-making. The end goal is to leave room for balance so you can find the level of control that’s right for you. The context and maturity of the stakeholders have a colossal impact in this practice. Of course, there is always the possibility of owning the technique and adapting the seven levels to what would be better suited to your family life.

Management 3.0 also offers you other practices and games that are also adaptable to family life. Especially if you are ready to be creative! It could be an occasion for another family activity: creating supports to help you use these practices together.

More games

I am thinking specifically of the Niko-Niko calendar. It is customizable and adaptable as desired. This calendar is a perfect example of colourful feedback that you can use at the end of each day by simply sharing your feelings about it.

We can also mention Moving Motivators and Kudos Cards. Don’t hesitate to draw inspiration from what Management 3.0 offers and adapt it to your family context. Regularly discussing motivations and desires also allows you to manage everyone’s expectations and create a dialogue in relation to your needs.

Kudos are often used as rewards in school. Don’t hesitate to make them accessible to your family. As long as it is sincere, valuing and complimenting allows everyone to grow in confidence and above all, it just feels good.

More related to Scrum, Planning Poker (consensus-based estimation technique) is used regularly within Agile development teams. This technique can be a lifesaver during the next distribution of household chores. Each member of your family can be involved in assessing the time or energy required for each task. Thus, the definition of expectations is shared and validated by all. No more misunderstandings, all your “stakeholders” are aware of the estimates for each point and, better still, have validated them. Here, you can create a sense of responsibility, of commitment; but also the notion of transparency and consensus by ruling very clearly on expectations and by deliberating together on each person’s achievements.

With these different practices and additional tools, you are ready to try Agility in your family! If you know of other useful tricks or have feedback on the ones offered here, don’t hesitate to share your feedback and ideas with us.

Sources and inspirations:

https://www.ted.com/talks/bruce_feiler_agile_programming_for_your_family/transcript?language=en
https://management30.com/
https://www.papa-et-patron.fr/ameliorer-sa-vie-de-famille-vive-lapproche-agile/
https://blog.trello.com/the-sage-strategies-of-agile-families
https://www.mountaingoatsoftware.com/blog/the-agile-household-how-scrum-made-us-a-better-family

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Ysaline Vranken

Avec plusieurs années d’expérience en recrutement dans le domaine des TI ainsi qu’en accompagnement social en Belgique et au Québec, Ysaline est passionnée par l’humain et l’Agilité dans les organisations. Titulaire d’une première certification Scrum.Org, elle se place comme intermédiaire Agile dans les processus RH et dans le recrutement à Pyxis Technologies.

Convaincue de l’importance de placer l’humain au centre des processus de travail, TI ou non, elle se forme actuellement dans le but de devenir coach et formatrice. Elle a à cœur d’améliorer la communication dans les entreprises, mais aussi au sein des équipes. Motiver, analyser et conseiller sont des actions essentielles à ses yeux.

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