3 Tips to Becoming Agile@Home

Agile Principles Easily Transfer to Family Life

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to pivot and stretch more than we ever imagined. Agile is well known in the software development community. This way of working can also be embraced and adapted to other environments. Learn how I leveraged the The Agile Manifesto to be Agile@Home.

The Agile Manifesto has 4 Values supported by 12 Principles that guide teams who develop software, solutions and services. When you take a few minutes to really think about it, many of these values and principles are easily transferrable to non-software development teams.

For example, consider these Agile Principles:

  • #4 Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  • #12 At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.
  • #3 Responding to change over following a plan.

In our homes, we also strive to work together, take time to reflect on our growth as a family, and to adapt when our plans are disrupted.

None of us started the calendar year thinking we’d be battling a global pandemic. As we all scrambled to create new routines, I began to slowly introduce my family to the values described in the Agile Manifesto. I shared practices and tools with my family that I would typically only use with the leaders and teams I coach.

I started to notice positive change. I observed more independent learning and accountability for schoolwork as well as general household responsibilities (chores). My family survived the spring and summer. After learning the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year would be a continuation of virtual learning, I realized Agile@Home would become a way of life.

Most of us do a fairly decent job with visualizing our work at home. We create To Do lists, Kanban boards, spreadsheets and shared calendars. Given that assumption, I’ll share with you 3 tips that go beyond the basics to make your home more agile. You can be Agile@Home by:

  1. Implementing Timeboxes
  2. Building Buy-In
  3. Enhancing Communication

1. Implementing Timeboxes—What is a Timebox and Why is It Needed?

Timeboxes give us limits to working on a defined task. They are important to build awareness and establish boundaries as needed. In our homes, these timeboxes may look like a bedtime/wake-up routine, a scheduled exercise/gym time, cafeteria availability, office hours, online class time or even tech time (i.e., video games, TV, cell phone usage). These timeboxes can be negotiated, but will only be proven effective with buy-in and compliance.

2. Build Buy-In—Why and Who Participates?

Change is proven to be most effective when all parties involved have a seat at the table. Instead of the boardroom table, the entire Agile@Home team should meet at the kitchen table (or their favorite comfy spot) to create a sustainable work-life agreement. Agile teams create agreements to outline expectations for how they’ll operate and self-organize. The Agile@Home agreement should do the absolute same! Buy-in boosts individual accountability. This in return helps to increase trust through inclusion.

3. Enhance Communication—Family Feedback

An agile team is coached to integrate feedback loops into their way of working. Example feedback loops are Retrospectives in Agile and Lessons Learned in Traditional Project Management. Agile Retrospectives occur at an agreed upon frequency, day and time to ensure the entire team is available.

With Agile@Home, this is a forum of sharing. Everyone has an opportunity to share what’s been going well, what’s not going so well, and what processes should continue.  This time should be used to celebrate each other’s accomplishments. At home, this could be in the form of sharing promotions, good grades or new skills learned. Other feedback loops can include daily stand-ups, a family meeting or a demo of completed projects/school work.

Each household is unique, so you will need to determine what timeboxes, agreements and feedback loops make the most sense for you. Remember to start by defining expected outcomes and objectives. After you have figured that out, don’t forget to inspect and adapt.

What actions will you take to be more Agile@Home?

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Tremillia H Williams headshot


Tremillia Highsmith Williams, Co-Founder of MiLu Unlimited LLC
email: milu.unlimited@gmail.com
website: www.miluunlimitedllc.com
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tremillia-highsmith-williams-0050842/




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