The lean and flexible management model deployed by software developers is being adopted by companies in sectors beyond technology. A new book by Jeff Sutherland, co-creator of the Scrum project management process, encourages teams to work together by setting clear goals. The book, Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, claims that meeting regularly and having visual workflows can reduce workloads, raise productivity and speed up development.

A recent interview on the Harvard Business Review blog discovered that executive coach Frank Saucier applies such management methods to family life.At home, as well as the office, he uses a board to display tasks that need to be done, are being done and done. So, “go bowling” gets added to a list, much like tasks in beta testing would.They review their progress by checking in twice a day: at dinner, and after the children are in bed. Every Thursday he meets with his wife to review plans for the weekend and the next week.Chief executives like to talk of their workplaces as like families in a bid to demonstrate their benevolence. But it is rare to find anyone declaring they run a family like a business. As Reid Hoffmann, co-founder of LinkedIn, and Ben Casnocha, author, pointed out last year: “Try to imagine disowning your child for poor performance: ‘We’re sorry Susie, but your mom and I have decided you’re just not a good fit. Your table-setting effort has been deteriorating for the past 6 months, and your obsession with ponies just isn’t adding any value’.”Such an approach is unusual but has much to recommend it. Mr Saucier observes his seven-year-old has taken charge of the family-meetings agenda. It “is teaching him good communication skills”, the coach notes. As work blurs into home life, it may save the parent-manager the effort of switching tack.

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