When the above TED Talk by Bruce Feiler came out, I didn’t even have a clue about Agile development practices, and more-over, I didn’t know how such a thing as project management could apply to family living. As a father of four, I salivated over the thought of my own children taking responsibility for anything let alone their own punishment, and I have been racking my brain on how to make this work for my own family. Since then, while I haven’t had any luck getting a 2, 4, 6, and 8 year old into this mindset, I have seen a marked difference in attitude when I have had them choose the chore they were responsible for on any given day.
Can this same principal work in education? Can it be applied to group projects in Science? History? In kindergarten, we all sat as a group at a table. Why did this practice end late in Grade School and especially High School? It seems that we are rooted to our Victorian education style, and that the next generation would benefit greatly from more group related education and team building projects.
I think Agile methodologies can be applied to just about every aspect of human interaction, by allowing people to choose the value that they bring to the table. After all, various living elements once came together to form the cell, and cellular systems are possibly the most successful in the known universe.
Perhaps a Scrum team can be viewed much like a cell, with each part of that cell doing it’s part for the whole, and as these cells work together, a company or organization can thrive. After all, we see how well small franchises work. Small teams of 5-10 people operate in a group, and if the group works well and there are enough resources within the market to sustain them, then they are successful. Each bases its business model on the genetic code of the larger organization, doing what it can to survive while passing some of that success up the chain.
From a top level standpoint, however, their success benefits the organization, but their failure does not kill the organism. If the organism dies, it is because its cells were not allowed to fulfill their function, whether by a lack of environmental resources (food, water) or a failure of the nervous system to allow these cells to do their jobs (self destructive behavior, poisoning the system with drugs and foods that satisfy the nervous system, but suffocate the body, like certain management practices, or overpaid CEOs, harmful price fixing and hefty product costs. I’m looking at you Quiznos.)