Friday, June 29, 2012

Using Scrum For Organizing Your Life


One of the most amazing and rewarding things to me is how Scrum is being used not only in software development, but in all sorts of areas, from schools and churches, to everyday. After I realized Arline was using Scrum to organize a family weekend, I asked her to write about it.

A family Scrum Board, from scrumforkids.com
Scrum is used by all kinds of people in all sorts of places to plan everything from weddings, preparing for the arrival of a baby, to managing a household, and getting kids organized. Oh, yes, some people use it to run software development projects, sales teams, corporate finance offices, and manufacturing. 

In our family, as you might expect, we use Scrum for everything, including this weekend. Our younger son, JJ, and his family are coming to Boston for three nights.   This means the delightful task of organizing the days and evenings.  It gets complicated.  They will stay at our older son, Drew’s house.  Counting us all, there will be 8 adults, one 12 year old, one almost 3 year old, and an eight month old.  Two cribs, 1 booster seat, 1 highchair and a potty. 

Adults have work lives, the 12 year old has summer activities, the three year old and the 8 month old need care and meals need preparing.  Did I mention that we have one vegan with a serious case of celiac disease, another vegan, a vegetarian and several carnivores, who cannot imagine a family meal without red meat. 

Thank God for Scrum!

Taking on the role of Product Owner, I’m creating a Backlog:

  • Plan menus that accommodate food restrictions and preferences
  • Create list of guests to include
  • Send invitations
  • Prepare Shopping List
  • Shop for food
  • Food prep
  • Form Clean-Up Committees
  • Form Welcoming Committees
  • Form Table setting teams
  • Form Seating Plan and Place Card writing teams
  • Unpack recently purchased supply of non-gluten contaminated kitchen items
  • Make sure the Grill is ready to go – clean and with enough propane
  • From an entertainment committee - games, excursions, etc
  • Rent items needed by visiting grandchild
  • Make arrangements to pick up visiting family members at airport
  • Provide child-care for visiting grandchild while most of family is at work
  • Schedule Skype Conference Call for Backlog Grooming and Sprint Planning Meeting
  • Cook 3 dinners, 3 breakfasts, and 4 lunches


Over the years, I have found that THE key to an effective Scrum is to ensure that the entire Team participates in Backlog Grooming and creating the Sprint Backlog.   We are a distributed team and will remain so till Thursday evening.  Emails only accomplish so much.  A Skype conference call will be needed.  

The disciplines of Scrum help create an atmosphere in which the people involved experience freedom and creativity.   

- Arline Sutherland

Well, it's going well so far. The first big dinner is tonight. If you really want to use Scrum to improve your practice, whether it be software development, management, sales, or running a house, my next Certified Scrum Master Course is in Boston on July 26-27.


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