Agile with kids…

Sometimes when I say I use agile idea’s to raise my kids, people look at me like I’m totally crazy.
Although I don’t want to go into that,  I do want to explain a little more what I mean with using agile to raise my kids.

For me agile is about giving a team the tools to become self organizing and to take responsibility.
The same philosophy I used to raise my  kids.

No I’m not a person that gives his 7 year old the right to do anything he wants. Just as any parent, I have my command-and-control moments & I also have moments I gave my kids too much freedom and not enough support.

Recently we started using an actual scrum technique for helping Joppe (7 year old) with his homework. When we moved to Bordeaux, he got a large amount of books and assignments from his Belgium school. This had to keep him in sync with their work, so he can stay in his class next year.

Although it was a large amount, we never actually counted the pages that needed to be done. (As I said sometimes I don’t give enough support.)

Every Wednesday when there was no school in France) my wife helped Joppe to do more homework as on the others days. Although he liked doing the work, getting started was never easy (Not even when he asked to do some more work.)

A few weeks ago, Els told me, she was afraid he might not finish everything.
I started at the same place where I would start with a scrum team.

Facing reality!
What is the work that needs to be done? Joppe and I started counting the pages in all the books.
8 books with in total
884 pages that had to be done this year. Wow, I never realized that  7 year old kids do so much work in a year; (And that is not counting the books he finished in Belgium)

We then counted the pages he had already done (or better the pages still left to do.)
286 Ok that is a lot less.
(We have no idea how much of these 600 pages he did in Belgium and how much here in Bordeaux.)
Although the work is coming from 8 different books, we thread them all as one list. (As one product backlog.)

And yes we know that filling in a math page will take him longer as reading some dutch. We ignored that fact, and look at each page as the same. (Mainly because the effort to find this out, is too much compared to the benefits.)
(yes some scrum teams are doing the same.)
We now know the ultimate end date. 2010/08/31 (The next day joppe will go to his old class in Belgium)

That gave us 286/70 (number of days)  = 4 pages a day. That was the amount of pages, Els aimed for the Wednesday. But in this case that was for every day. I started to see why we felt he was getting behind.
Doing 4 pages a day also was a big risk. Then he would not have any slack + no holiday.
We actually wanted him to finish the 2010/07/31
That gives us 7 pages a day.
Once Joppe knew this, everything became a lot easier; No longer constant pushing and pulling from our side.

Although this was not a target set by him, he felt he could do it and he engaged in the work.
It still is hard to get him started, once he is started on his first page, he will rather go for 10 then for 4 pages.

On top of the target, I also created a burn down chart, that I update to show his progress.
Actually that is not completly true. Joppe keeps track of the pages he does every day &  calculates the total.
(More math exercise, with a real goal.)
We started on a portable whiteboard, the small amount (7 a day) makes it impossible to update.
The google doc version is actually much easier;
I also used the burndown chart to explain the complex topic of sustainable pace.

Update:Next up is start using the referee cards with my kids