Agile management is something many companies aim to practise. As with all new things, the hardest part is to start. Moreover, due to the fact that a whole bunch of terminology is associated with “agile”, such a start might be twice as difficult. However, as our story about the IT manager Klára and her household shows, thanks to “agile” work, you can achieve amazing results. Our agile fairy tale is about to introduce to you the basic terms related to the topic.
She assumed it was the right time for her children to learn the two most important things for every human being – to be able to tidy up and be “agile”.
“Kids, our home starts to look like not one in the middle of a coronavirus crisis, but in the middle of a zombie apocalypse,” said Klára. “It’s high time you found out the true meaning of the proverb ‘No pain, no gain’ and did something about this situation.”
The mother familiarised her kids with the situation and made sure to explain to them thoroughly that she was about to have a well-deserved rest for the weekend. She rejected any objections and made a thorough list of things she would be checking up at the end of the weekend. As Klára had been working in the IT field for several years already, she could not remember the proper Czech words – so she called this the acceptance criteria. All the required tasks needed to be completed during the course of the weekend to come. This period constituted a two-day sprint.
Klára’s eldest son was appointed the “Product Owner”. He would be the one responsible for all these complex activities and for meeting the acceptance criteria. The other kids would be the „Squad Members", performing all the required tasks.
The father kept observing all these activities from a distance and tried to avoid being assigned his own challenging tasks. When it seemed like the children would start digging a well in their garden, their father started feeling sorry for the kids and offered them that he would become the “Scrum Master” free of charge. When the children asked what it meant, he explained to them promptly that he would help them with the methodology, mum’s assignment and problem solving, but under no circumstances would he do their job for them.
Being supervised by the experienced “Scrum Master“, the children organised their “sprint planning“ to start with. They agreed on what would be necessary to manage throughout the weekend and they made a list of tasks. They marked this list as a “sprint backlog“. The children divided their tasks according to their experience and preferences and they started doing their two-day sprint officially.
Following these demanding ceremonies, nothing prevented the children from getting the work done. They ran around the whole house and started accomplishing their tasks according to the priorities set in advance. From the distance, the father – the “Scrum Master” – provided them with advice on where to find cleaning products and the necessary equipment.
On Sunday morning, after staying in bed late, the children woke up to the planned “stand-up”. At this brief meeting at home, they summarised and assessed the current procedure and the eldest son reminded everyone of their most important tasks. The daughter Anetka complained she would not be able to manage hoovering and mopping the floor in the whole house, as she had underestimated the difficulty of this task. The other children promised to help her upon completing their own tasks.
In the evening, the tired children met their relaxed mum Klára. She praised them for the work done and assessed the success of the entire event. She rewarded all her children with sweets for having accomplished the acceptance criteria so well. She couldn't help but notice that some parts needed improving. She was not excited about the fact that some of the wardrobes contained, rather than neatly folded clothes, piles of stuff threatening to fall out once the door was opened. That’s why she created a long-standing product backlog which the children could work on during the course of the weekends to come and improve their efforts this way. During the week, the priority of some of the tasks might change or the team might not need to perform them at all. That’s why the children should organise their “backlog refinement“ where the product backlog would be revised according to the current situation.
It might not come as a surprise that the children got scared of having to do more sprints like that – they were frightened by having to repeat the entire process forever. However, their father assured them quickly that the repetitive tasks would soon take them much less time and effort. Therefore, he suggested organising a retrospective to enable each one of the kids to assess their successes or failures, so that they could learn from them. After a short brainstorming, the parents promised to purchase better cleaning products and a new hoover, as the old one was not functioning properly any more. The children thought of swapping some of the tasks with each other to increase their efficiency this way.
After several sprints, the house is perfectly clean, mum and dad are entirely happy, and the children realised that cooperation and a well-structured agile methodology can make the world go round.