Time for a new working agreement…

As a father, working adult and someone that has way too many interests. My life can be a mess at times and all chaos has been managed because my spouse fills the cracks. She worried about dinner, going to the store, homework, karate practice and made our family operate like a well tuned machine. I provided the funding, security and a little silliness. My wife did an amazing job keeping our family running but she wanted to show more than our family what she has to offer.  She got another job and we needed amend our working agreement.

I love the irony of life, I help teams with this transition and now I get to experience a similar thing.  So, I began to thumbing through patterns to use and determined we needed an information radar… We needed a kanban to show us what’s going on.  Anytime we try something new we always say, “220/221 whatever it takes”.  It’s a reference to Mr. Mom when Jack Butler (Micheal Keaton) is trying to show off that he actually know what he’s doing but he doesn’t and acts like a complete idiot. We say it to eachother that even if this ideas fails, we’lll not be as much as an idiot as Jack Butler.

The challenge in front of us

Since we both were working full-time, we need some system to keep each other informed of the events of the day. What’s the plan for dinner (and who’s making it), who had to pickup the kids, or had a work event. Each day we would talk about it on the way out the door or text each other, rinse and repeat. We had the same conversation 2-3x because both of us were half listening, or we forgot (especially me). So, we missed birthday parties or forgot about karate or each both the ingredients for spaghetti for dinner. Just like at work, when I’m faced with any challenge, the solution is often solved with Super Sticky Post-It Notes and Sharpies. Combined they are one of the most powerful tools to solve just about any problem.

The Birth of the VG Kanban!


It took a couple iterations but out family kanban board was born! Across the top are the days of the week, then the themes of activities. We broke ours into events, something happening that day, meals, what’s for dinner and pickup/drop off, who needed to pickup the kids that day. Unlike other attempts to get organized, this version was adaptive, if we didn’t like the format, change it.

The planning session

Each Sunday, my wife and I have a planning session to figure out what is happening the following week. This is where we decide what’s for dinner for the week, what events are happening and who needs to pickup and drop off the kids. Just like a team the plan is directionaly correct and its okay if it changes. At the end of the planning session one of us snaps a picture of the board and shares it with eachother.

What about when things change?

Just like everything in life, things change. Oh, I forgot I have meeting tomorrow with my boss, or there is a great conference I want to go to, or my buddy needs to grab a beer and talk about life. No worries, meet in front of the board and make the changes you need. Then if you both agree to the updates, take a snapshot of the board and share with each other. This now is the plan, if things change, re-plan. Just makes sure you both are included in the plan 🙂

What we learned

  • Keep the board in a place you see every day, we setup ours on the door to the garage. Keeping things visible will reinforce the importance of looking at it once a day.
  • I knew it was a good system, when we didn’t do it one week and wanted to re-plan later in the week.
  • Use different colors, magnets or something else to make things fun.