Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Jenn Labin.
A year ago, I shared the process my family uses for our weekly scrum. I described how scrum changed the way we communicate and how our productivity improved. I also noted how important it is to examine your process and iterate or evolve as needed.
Since the original post, my husband and I have continued to evolve our family scrum to serve the needs of our ever-changing world. Both our job responsibilities and schedules have changed considerably in that time and our kids are a year older and in different schools. These changes necessitated some important alterations to our weekly meeting process.
Weekly Stand Ups
We started to realize that connecting once per week (in our case, on Sundays) had a downside. Sundays and Mondays would be highly productive. We would cross off many action items, spurred on by our scrum’s brand-new prioritization.
However, by mid-week, the list of what we had committed to doing faded into a chaotic circus of school pick-ups, late work days, illness, client requests… By the end of the week, we weren’t thinking about our action items, which meant they weren’t getting done.
We revised our scrum process accordingly. Now we include a mid-week “Stand Up” meeting that lasts 15 minutes. That quick touch point reminds us of the items that are most urgent. We are so exhausted at the end of each day that it’s easier to just zone out in front of the TV than to be productive. However, this new weekly meeting often motivates us to tackle one or two more items before tuning out.
You might be thinking this weekly meeting makes the scrum process more complicated and time-consuming. But we’ve found the additional quick check-in to be one of those things that feels like slowing down but actually speeds us up. When we add the weekly Stand Up mid-week, we’re far more productive overall than we are the weeks we miss it.
Initially, our scrum process had all sorts of categories, tags, and due dates. The more urgent and important the action item, the more likely it was tagged as Current, had a due date that week, and was marked with a high priority flag.
Unfortunately, this turned out to be the wrong approach. We were combining the ideas of urgency and importance instead of treating them separately. As a result, we might end up with 40 items that were high importance and due that week. It made for an overwhelming list of things to do and gave no clear starting point for tackling them.
Thus, we decided to treat urgency and importance separately. Using our tool of choice, Todoist, we marked urgent items based on when they needed to be accomplished using list names like “Current,” “Short-Term,” and “Medium Term.” Some of the most urgent items were also important while others weren’t as important in the grand scheme of things but still needed to be done.
We began marking importance with specific priority 1, priority 2, and priority 3 flags in Todoist. The flags gave us fast insight into which action items were the most important and which were the least. This cagematch was the most challenging piece for me. I had to be honest that some things that felt important weren’t as relatively important as others.
Here are some real-life examples:
- Fill out kid’s paperwork so she can use computers at school
- High Urgency – paperwork is due this week
- Medium Importance – we obviously don’t want her to miss this important aspect of education, but in being honest, the world won’t stop spinning if we’re late to turn the paperwork in
- Finish booking travel for vacation
- High Urgency – rates will go up, or availability possibly will go down if we wait
- High Importance – failing to book travel would be pretty disastrous for our plans
- Review client meeting recording
- Medium Urgency – there’s no real due date, and no one else is expecting the review to be done
- High Importance – necessary for me to do my best work on this project
Above all else, we had to learn to be more flexible with our scrum process. There were weekends when we had so many plans that we couldn’t find time to have our weekly meeting.
That’s when we realized we have to keep the goal in mind and plan our actions to accomplish it. The overall purpose of these scrums is to prioritize and delegate the work of our family to make sure nothing essential is missed.
In order to make sure the highest priority items were discussed, we always set aside a short time to cover the first two parts of our conversation:
- Upcoming Week Events
- Action Items with Due Dates in the Next 7 Days
Even if we couldn’t fit in a full scrum, this shorter version achieved the most important goal of the weekly meeting, prioritizing and delegating our family activities for the week.
So now what? Do you need to refine your family scrum?
If you have any kind of weekly meeting currently, think about examining the process. Do you need to adjust anything? Are there any parts of the process not serving your purpose? How might you improve the efficiency or effectiveness of the scrum process? (Tweet this.)
If you don’t yet have a weekly meeting, consider putting a short process in place to test how it can improve your productivity. The frequency is not important, only the consistency of the meetings. It’s also not essential to spend a long time in each meeting or to cover every possible task. Just identify the one or two topics that would make your week more successful.
By the way, if you want an easy way to organize your team meetings, consider using the Weekly Momentum Planners. These are a great way to ensure you and your team discuss the most important action items!