Our Scrum Master is five years old

Our Scrum Master is five years old

Screenshot 2014-02-24 00.03.39At our house, we use many of the Agile principles in running our family. My wife mostly plays the Product Owner role, the kids and I make up the Development Team and we randomly play the Scrum Master role.

One of the practices we have adopted is a short retrospective of our day during dinner. The reason we started doing this was because my oldest daughter Maja (eight years old) almost never told me about her day. I could sometimes sense she hadn’t had the best of days, but when I asked what was wrong, she just said “nothing.”

Inspired by fellow Danish agilist Mads Troels Hansen (@madsth), I introduced the Fist to Five feedback game during dinner. It’s actually more a technique than a game, but that’s how I sold it to the kids. The idea is that everyone scores their day by showing one to five fingers using the following scale:

  1. A terrible day
  2. A bad day
  3. An average day
  4. A good day
  5. An awesome day

If we score the day less than a five, e.g., a three, the others then ask “what should have been different to score your day, e.g., a four.” We never take it up more than one point, as it might be too hard to imagine what would turn a one into a five, for example. The answer would like just be “everything” or something similar. If we score the day a five, we ask what made the day so great.

The effect on, especially, Maja’s willingness (probably unknowingly) to share with me (and the rest of the family) has been nothing short of amazing. My colleague Jenni Jepsen (@jenniindk) has taught me a lot about how the brain reacts in different situations. She would probably argue that asking my daughter “what is wrong?” makes all her alarm bells go off and makes her feel like being a victim of an interrogation. Turning it into a game and asking a more positive question on the other hand makes her a lot less defensive and willing to share.

If you have trouble getting your kids to tell you about their day, the technique above might be worth a try. Apart from working really well with the kids, it also forces the adults to tell about their day in a language the kids understand and over time it becomes this fun little ritual.

Speaking of rituals, I almost forgot to explain why I consider Mathilde (our five-year-old) our Scrum Master. More often than not, she is the one reminding us to have the retrospective. When the rest of us have forgotten or just haven´t gotten to it yet, she often calls out “one to five, one to five” and then she picks the order and asks “How has your day been one to five?” and follows up by asking what should have been different to achieve a higher score. The best thing is, you can really see how she enjoys facilitating the retrospective and yes… it really makes her daddy proud ;-)

The image above is of our Scrum Master Mathilde playing with an ice cube.