Scrum framework was envisioned as a means to provide a seamless approach to software development in a team environment. Even though Scrum is designed to emphasize teamwork and collaboration, can it be used outside work and perhaps even for personal projects?
In short, is personal Scrum possible and does it make sense?
Envisioning the future
Every Agile project begins with envisioning what needs to be built and how to get there from scratch. The same can be said for our everyday lives. We all have plans for the future, dreams, ambitions and goals. We all want to be somewhere ideal a few years from now or at least hope we'll be able to get there.
What's more, most of us give up on many of those goals because we make up excuses or realistically tell ourselves: "That can't happen, because (insert a few facts here)". However, is it really impossible to envision some part of our lives and turn it into a project where we will use Scrum as a means to navigate that project?
It's not only possible but probable as well. Scrum as a framework allows us to evaluate each step towards a goal we envisioned, as well as determine what went well and what went wrong so that we can improve. With every sprint, you can analyze where you currently are and what it will take to move a step further.
*Of course, some more strictly team-oriented benefits of Scrum will be absent.
Personal Scrum for personal projects
No one said that Scrum cannot be utilized as a one-person team endeavor. Even if you take on a personal project on your own, you can still leverage Scrum to its fullest potential. As an example, let's take home renovations as a personal project.
You want to have at it alone and you don't want any contractors butting in on what you've envisioned for your home. Let's assume you know what you're doing and you don't need to educate yourself on any construction business. By using Scrum as a framework for your project, you can prioritize tasks, i.e. create a backlog and decide which tasks you can accomplish within a pre-set time period, i.e. a Sprint.
This will allow you to establish a seamless way to proceed with renovations and focus on what's important until you reach the end of the project. After each sprint, you can evaluate what's what and if there were any mistakes. Go back to mending the mistakes before you move on to the next sprint. That way you can save both time and resources on your project and in the end, you get to enjoy what you wanted, to begin with.
Create short-term goals
As mentioned before, we all have ambitions or dreams that seem too unrealistic to pursue so we straight up give up on them. In Agile projects, a major task that cannot be completed in one sprint is called an Epic.
Epics are, therefore, divided into smaller user stories that can be completed in a single sprint ultimately allowing the teams to complete an epic. The same concept can be used in our personal lives or projects. Instead of giving up on what it seems to be an unrealistic goal or dream that is impossible to achieve with a single attempt, try to make more short-term goals that inevitably lead to the same thing. Divide your ambition into smaller user stories so that you can achieve something epic in the end.
Let's explore a possibility, shall we? Say you want to start your own business, yet you avoid pursuing that dream because A) you have no knowledge about starting or running a business and B) you're broke as a joke. In this case, "I as a person want to be a business owner" is your epic. It won't and it can't happen overnight. On the other hand, if you break this epic into more short-term goals then the end results becomes that much achievable and possible, to begin with. So your user stories should look something like this:
- Educate myself on entrepreneurship
- Explore funding options.
- Conduct market analysis to validate my business idea.
- Develop a business plan.
- Seek funding or try to raise capital on my own.
- Launch a business.
The Scrum framework is designed to identify problems, as well as find a way to overcome such obstacles. If you give up straight away you may never know whether or not you had an opportunity to make your dream a reality.
Collaboration is Personal Scrum
A lot of people prefer to ride solo while others prefer to settle down and start a family. Scrum as a framework is designed towards helping the teams collaborate, in order to accomplish tasks and get the work done efficiently and seamlessly. The concept of personal Scrum can be utilized by both individuals and families.
As an example, if you're riding solo you do what you can with what you have and try to make the best of it whether it's regarding a personal project or your life in general. You constantly reflect on what you've achieved so far and consider ways to improve yourself. You can always collaborate with friends to seek out feedback and input.
On the other hand, families can easily be considered as teams. Each member has their own set of problems and needs and everyone works collaboratively towards reaching goals or fixing problems. With personal Scrum, you can share ideas, prioritize problems and goals, as well find the best course of action while empowering your kids to think strategically and value both success and failures as personal growth.