Family Kanban

Crap. Corona.

This is not how I imagined my new assignment would start. I guess it’s not how anyone imagined anything would go… We kind of saw it coming, but not for real, so it hit us by surprise anyway.

Beginning of March: moi = Diana, mom of 2, Agile Coach and huge fan of sunrises. I was starting at a client who wanted their entire organisation (over 3.000 employees) move to the agile way of working. In order to get things started, they hired a small army of external coaches and I am one of them. I was super exited and totally ready to go! We began of with an entire week of training on what scaling agile would look like in this company, and then I finally got to join the tribe. ‘My tribe’ was one of the few agile pilots, they had already started last year. I focussed on getting to know the people, building a basic understanding of the work they’re doing and shadowing the ceremonies of one of the squads. The more week 2 progressed, the more I felt I was settling in. Unfortunately, so was corona…


By mid-March, the company decided that everybody would work from home. Which was the best decision to make, obviously. No biggie, I was used to working remotely so I was not expecting any major issues. Oh hold on: the schools would also be closed! Again, great decision, but my mind started going frantic with all kind of horror scenarios : my kids painting the walls with finger paint, ‘weeding’ the garden, forcing the cats into doing circus acts, demolishing each other’s bed rooms, scheming up plans on how to kill each other and get away with it. My kids are 7 and 10, and pretty creative.  I would have to hide the knives. (Indeed, they are not exactly the Von Trapp children. They usually tend more to the Adams family hehe. Prior to actually having kids, I had this family vision of all of us holding hands and hopping around in flower fields. Yeah, that did not happen so far) As I love them with all my heart though, my main goal was keeping them alive. My second goal was to actually still get stuff done. I had just started at this company and felt I had yet to earn my first stripes, how could I ensure I would be able to work? A friend of mine posted this tip on facebook: make it clear to your child when you can spend time together, and when not. I thought that was great advice! And as an Agile Coach, I came up with the Family Kanban.


The purpose was visualisation, obviously not to get things in ‘Done’ 😉 The whole thing had to be as simple as possible. So my columns were not statuses, but parts of the day, which I indicated by the position of the sun. The user stories were activities for all of us to do, most of them fun, some mandatory.  I drew them as icons on post its. Pink ones = fun, blue = mandatory.  As you want the board to be visible and accessible at all times, I decided it would go on the fridge. Which had the additional advantage I could use magnets as avatars, to indicate who is doing what. So I transformed the magnets into family members and was good to go!

We did our first ‘sprint planning’ at The Fridge on Sunday evening.  We all took the activities we wanted or had to do and put them on the board.  This was great fun and the pull mechanism really worked.  OK, I admit I may have had to stroooongly suggest the tidying up one… In the morning, we did a mini huddle to recap what was on The Fridge for that day. And in the evening, we even did some kind of a retro. Turned out my kids were sticking to it very well, my husband however not so haha!  They all had chosen to go outside for a walk in a greenbelt together, but in the afternoon he decided on his own to postpone it.  Ah well, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Overall it went really well: none of us got killed, I was able to work all day and we had some great fun along the way with it too. Sprint goal accomplished 😊