Agile for Families in the WSJ

February 10th, 2013

Elegant Code readers know I have used agile practices with my kids and family for years now. I even write and speak about it occasionally.

Here are some past articles on the subject, and one podcast.

Fast forward to yesterday’s article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Run Your Family Like a Business” by Bruce Feiler.  Mister Feiler, who is an amazing individual and accomplished writer, spent a few days at our home three years ago observing some of the practices borrowed from agility we use at home. The result of his visit was to include our family’s story in his most recent book, “The Secrets of Happy Families”.

Bruce’s family apparently enacted some of our techniques including a weekly planning meeting for the family. Bruce’s family has found value in the practice and accordingly he included this in his book.

I’m  a Little Unsettled

I am thrilled that Bruce and others have found value in the practices. I am not in love with the assertions and throw-away lines being made about the techniques, however. Our use of agile practices at home is NOT about running our family as a business. Agility at home or at work is more about decentralizing coordination, exploiting strengths, shared accountability, and constant improvement. I will go so far as to say that one benefit of agility in the workplace has been to re-introduce some humanity in places where before there was a strict clinical view of success and failure.

None of this is dehumanizing to my family, my children, or others who find value in these ideas. Those commenting on the article seem to follow a common thread in which they assert we are removing compassion from our home and our family. I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, things like the weekly family planning meeting have done nothing but improve the compassion we have for each other as we can better understand the pressures each of us face.

In short, I think the core message around this is a little off. I remain optimistic and will reserve a more aggressive stance until I have read the book. I haven’t received a pre-publication copy, but I have pre-ordered on Amazon

What Matters Most

Today is Sunday. Tonight, we will have our Weekly Family Planning meeting just as described in Bruce’s article. I know that we’re all better for it.

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