Agile Moves into Our Homes and Schools

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The rise of developers using agile methodology in software development has shown that groups perform best outside of a command-and-control structure. In an agile environment, decision making is in the hands of those responsible for what is delivered, and this change addressed many of the issues long associated with teams. This success in changing the way groups function has led to agile principles and practices being applied outside the workplace—and now in our homes and schools.

Bruce Feiler’s recent Wall Street Journal article on using agile in the home has generated a great deal of conversation and is just another example of agile’s escape from the workplace. Feiler shows how software engineers brought agile home in order to try to rein in the chaos of their unpredictable family life.

Agile is very strong at adapting to change, and we all know how quickly change can happen at home. Interestingly the children mentioned in Feiler’s article responded to responsibility and commitment in much the same way that people in corporations do—they flourished. Simply giving them a say in the process and independence in pursuing outcomes resulted in less involvement from the parents in making sure tasks are completed.

Not only has agile moved into our homes, it is now reaching into our schools, whose leaders are now realizing the benefits of working in groups and constantly re-evaluating progress. John Miller with Agile Schools writes about a possible Agile Manifesto that's just for education, and he spotlighted a handy list of twelve items that shows what needs to be done in good agile schooling.

From Agile Schools here are a couple of items that Miller recommends:

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the needs of children and their families through early and continuous delivery of meaningful learning.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in a learning cycle. Harness change for the benefit of children and their families.

As you can see, this would clearly change the way students interact with their teachers and class. Re-organizing schools this way would better prepare students for the environment in which they will most likely spend the majority of their professional life.

Since agile methodology is in the process of changing the way corporations work, it should come as no surprise that it is now changing the way we organize our personal lives as well. After all, our families and classrooms are also teams with which we work to accomplish common goals.

Using agile principles to empower all the members of the team (i.e., family and classroom) and instilling the importance of commitment are dramatic changes from the traditional command-and-control structure most commonly found at home and school. Reforming the way we interact, communicate, and make decisions (especially with children) is a fundamental change that will have a lasting impact on our society.

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Steve Vaughn

Steve Vaughn is a twenty-year survivor of the IT wars. He has worked a variety of organizations as a software developer, architect, and ScrumMaster. Steve has spent the past five years attempting the impossiblemanaging software developers. He is now using this experience to act as an agile coach and help develop high-performing teams.