Recently, it’s come to my attention that a friend is experiencing nearly insurmountable financial hardship. After initially offering to help out by sharing a few food items, I realized that a few items shared once is not enough. This inspired me to consider the idea of sharing food weekly. I decided to create a regular care package of sorts, until she got back on her feet again.
She agreed to pick up a care package from me weekly. And that’s how this social action initiative was born.
Once I knew I’d be doing this weekly, several logistics had to be sorted out. Where was the food coming from? Where would I store the food between pick-ups? When would it be picked up?
Interestingly, I don’t have enough food in my own cupboards to share with someone weekly. Fortunately, I know many others who are like-minded and highly value supporting and helping others so I began to reach out. Within days I had more than seven bags of food to share and it occurred to me that this would be my goal – 7 bags for 7 days. That should get her through the week.
It didn’t take too long for me to see that if I considered myself as the Product Owner of this product – a weekly food package – that there might be valuable Agile concepts and practices which could easily help support the sustainability of this initiative.
“Is this a Project or a Product?”
Immediately, an Agile Coach inspired me to think of this not as a project, but as a product. The main difference, he reminded me, is that a project has a start and an end. A product doesn’t have an end date. It can always improve.
At the beginning, I thought of this as a “project.” You know? A bunch of us getting together with the vision of sharing food weekly. It was our “Food Sharing Project.”
Before long, I realized that was an old way of thinking about work. When I thought about the food package as a product a lot changed. It became easier to see what was needed for this product to be useful to the recipient. The quality of this product became clear.
I also watched this video from Mishkin Berteig which encouraged me to think about the ways in which this package could be run with Scrum. (So far, I am the Product Owner. Now I just need a ScrumMaster and Scrum Team. You never know, maybe this will evolve some day!)
Then I read this article by Mike Caspar which got me thinking about acceptance criteria and the importance of consultation, reflection, learning and planning.
The key learning for me today is that when I think about this service of delivering a weekly care package as a product I see it’s likely it can continue indefinitely, always improving. That really excites me.
It is not a project, but a product and is being organized and delivered using Agile methods.
This is one way that Agile is being used outside of IT with great success.