As a Scrum Master, my favourite methodology is of course Scrum, but I’ve been known to dabble in Kanban occasionally. Kanban is great for organisations just making the switch to Agile or for newly formed teams as there are fewer “rules” (no roles or events, don’t have to estimate etc) and it gets people into thinking about work in smaller chunks and about the flow of tickets to prevent blockages.
It’s for these reasons that when I moved into my new house last month just before Christmas, I decided to utilise my team (husband, step-father and mother) in the best way possible - by being Agile. As they were a new team and there were so many unknowns (what have the previous owners left in the shed, are the walls going to be too hard to drill into, what’s behind the oven???), we couldn’t really establish a velocity to know what we could complete; but we also had a set of goals for the weekend so I went for Scrumban - a mashup of Kanban and Scrum. I thought I’d document how it went to prove that Agile methodologies can be used for all sorts of things.
The first thing I did was to create my backlog of work. I wrote up a list of tasks we needed to get done and gave them a priority order. I started off with a small amount of tasks as I knew more would crop up as we went:
Next, I gathered my team around and we had a Sprint Planning over a cup of tea. In Kanban, planning meetings are not necessary, but I felt my newly assembled team could do with a walk through my backlog so we had a quick discussion of the tasks and checked the order made sense. For example, we couldn’t wall-mount the TV until we’d been to the DIY store to pick up the right screws, which meant that the “Trip to B&Q” (which was much further down my backlog) had to come up to the top.
The great thing about having a Kanban influence was that I could change the order of my backlog at any time. So whilst I originally had “Clean up dog mess” (that previous owner kindly left at least a month’s worth of) fairly high up on my list, actually once more work was discovered from tickets already in progress, it ended up being pushed down as something I could do myself at a later date. This meant I was utilising the skills of the team I had assembled for more complicated tasks. Here’s where we got to at the end of day one:
“Trip to B&Q” took much longer than anticipated; they didn’t have all the things we needed as the local store was closing down (hello unknowns). Half the team spent half the day getting everything which really slowed us down. We’d hung a few of the pictures but my toddler didn’t like the drilling and was getting grumpy so we had to stop for the day. Still, we were confident we had everything for day two and I’d picked up fish and chips for dinner so everyone was happy.
We didn’t start very smoothly as two of the team went to plumb in the washing machine and found the waste pipe was far too short. This was a really important ticket for me as I needed to wash my daughter’s clothes, so a second trip to B&Q was unfortunately required. This was another unknown and not something I’m sure we could have done much about, but we did reassess things before the team left to see if there was anything else that day that we could pick up and so added some more tasks which went up to the top of my backlog (something you can’t do as easily in Scrum as it affects the scope of the sprint):
We had longer for day two so we smashed through the tickets. We weren’t blocked by anything except my daughter being a bit cranky so one team member stopped to take her to the park whilst we carried on.
At the end of day two, here’s where we finished:
Before they left, I sat my team down to reflect on the weekend and the tasks we had left. They agreed that by planning everything in advance, we saved a lot of time and ensured the right people were carrying out the best tasks to utilise our skills properly. My step-dad even said he’d try this next time he had a DIY weekend!
We still had some things to do, but as a team we’d got the most important tasks done first which put us in a much better position. We’d hit our goal of making the new house clean and tidy as well as addressing some debt like labelling the consumer unit to save us wasting time later on.
Scrum and Kanban are incredibly powerful tools in their own right. By combining elements of both we can tailor techniques to the work we’re doing; whether it’s for software development or for getting your new house in order!