When it’s good to take your work home

Want your family to function effectively?

Once again, the Harvard Business Review’s Morning Advantage has come up trumps, highlighting a blog posting which highlights a growing trend in taking successful approaches from the workplace and applying them at home.  HBR’s Dana Rousmaniere writes:

Take Your Work Solutions Home
Fed up with the chaos that was dominating their household, the Starr family of Hidden Springs, Idaho, decided to start running their family like a business. They turned to a program called agile development, a system of group dynamics where workers are organized into small teams, and hold daily progress sessions and weekly reviews. According to The Wall Street Journal’s Saturday Essay Family Inc, it’s a growing trend among a new generation of parents who are taking workplace solutions — like accountability checklists, branding sessions, mission statements, core values statements, and conflict resolution techniques — home to their families.

Some of the take-home advice? 1.) The most effective teams (and families) aren’t dominated by a single top-down leader; all members must contribute. 2.) Employees (and children) are more self-motivated when they can set weekly goals, plan their own time, and evaluate their own work. 3.) You need to build flexibility into a business, or a family. You can’t anticipate every problem, so you need systems that allow you to adapt to change quickly. Accountability, one of the central tenets of agile development, is also key, making “information radiators” — large, public boards where people mark their progress — essential. 

The article is adapted from a book,  The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More, by Bruce Feiler.  Due out next week, it looks like a great read.

Even if you don’t have children at home with all their attendant challenges, Feiler’s blog posting makes for interesting reading.  To what extent, for example, are you familiar with ‘agile’ practices and the benefits that they bring in the workplace?  Equally, Feiler’s posting highlights an interesting trend away from top-down leadership towards greater involvement of people throughout the organisational hierarchy.  I have mentioned before the work of Alfie Kohn and Daniel Pink – or at least, the way they have summarised research which suggests that the use of extrinsic punishment and rewards to motivate staff has the opposite of its desired effect.  Feiler’s article provides practical alternatives and describes how these worked in one family in practice.

I’d be interested to learn how you respond to Feiler’s article and, if you go on to read it, to his book.  What do you take from his article that you can apply in your work or family life?

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