At Home with Agile
2023 is here, and I’m not ready. As the project manager at QIC, I ensure that our project objectives are met using techniques rooted in the Agile methodology. No project has felt too daunting to manage nor a team too challenging to collaborate with. Yet here I am, staring January in the face, terrified of how I will manage my family and household. I need a plan. I need help. There’s going to be a crib-to-bed transition. Potty training. Swimming, ballet, soccer, gymnastics, skating, and karate classes. It’s. All. Too. Much. How to stem the hysteria? How to tackle this overwhelm?
I repeat I’m a capable, successful project manager. Can’t I use the same tools at home to bring order to the chaos? As it turns out, I’m late to this revelation. According to Bruce Feiler (TED talk), Agile was just what his household needed to “cut parental screaming in half.” I was simultaneously floored and elated. I had spent a decade working on mastering a framework that I could have been using in my personal life all along.
I will spare you the history and details of Agile, but if you’re interested, here is an excellent place to start. In short, the purpose of Agile is to make progress in an ever-changing environment, utilizing an empirical process to make decisions to ensure we move the needle in the right direction. As we understand at QIC, R&D contracts often come with many unknowns, having to meet tight timelines and budgets while leaving room for exploration, collaboration, and adaptation. Using Agile principles, our team meets at predictable regular intervals to regroup and connect to share progress and information to continue to improve and deliver value.
On the home front, my husband and I connect after the kids’ bedtime to have a warming beverage and look at the day ahead. This often involves laughing over who cried more, us or the kids, and ways to reduce tears. This is similar to the sprint retrospective when the team discusses ways to work better together to avoid recurring problems. It is also like the daily standup when the team shares what they will be doing for the day, enabling them to communicate roadblocks early, and assist where necessary. Granted, we may not have much progress involving our 2yo and 5yo kids in these discussions despite being key stakeholders; I would like to think that very soon they will be. Empowering them to participate in the process will hopefully lead to cooperation and a happy home life.
Agile applied in the home is a compelling idea, one that I’m willing to try this year. If I fail, at least I’ll be failing fast! Would you try any of these approaches to household management in your personal life? What skills do you hone in your workplace that you could apply at home?
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