Tackle Life Together

A blog by Sally Waters

sally [at] homescrum .co.uk

Tip jar


Creative Commons License


How to ask for help using Home Scrum (with scripts)

What you are actually asking for

Let’s ignore the fact that the way Atlas and Hercules treated each other is not the best example of healthy helping.

It is a good idea, and a sign of respect, to ask for specific help when approaching someone. So, what are you actually asking someone in your Home Scrum team to do? Here’s what you will be inviting your potential team member to join you for:

  1. Getting a board of some kind set up on a wall somewhere
  2. A daily meeting (the Daily Scrum) lasting a maximum of 15 minutes to go through the tasks on said board
  3. A weekly or fortnightly meeting to refine and plan out the next tasks to do (the Sprint Plan)
  4. A weekly or fortnightly meeting to discuss how you think the Scrum system is going (the Sprint Retrospective)

That’s it. To make this even more concrete, I have written out a rough suggestion of a script you could follow, since asking for help may seem simple, but might not feel easy, and it’s worth breaking down every potential obstacle that might make it feel harder.

The basic points to mention

You want to use Home Scrum yourself, and know the person

(Remember, you can always send them a message if that is less intimidating than a face-to-face (or face-to-phone) conversation.)

  • So, I’ve come across this thing called ‘Scrum.’ It’s a way for teams in the tech industry to work together, but it can also be used as a way to organise things at home too.
  • I reckon Home Scrum might be useful for me to organise myself. The thing is, though, that it’s not something you just do by yourself. I need someone else to do it with me.
  • I would like to do it with you, if you want to help me. You wouldn’t have to use Scrum yourself if you already have your own way of doing things, you could just help me to use it.
  • The main thing I would need from you is to have this short meeting called the ‘Daily Scrum’ with me every day. The meeting would last a maximum of 15 minutes, usually much shorter, and would involve talking about what I’ve done in that day and what I plan to do the next. We would try and have it at the same time each day.
  • The only other ongoing thing once we’ve got it set up would be a couple of longer meetings every week or fortnight, where we’d plan for the next week or fortnight and discuss any tweaks we want to make to improve the system.
  • I know a daily commitment (even a short one) is a big deal, and it’s the main reason why I can’t do Scrum by myself—I need someone else to help me keep using it. Think it over and let me know if you’d be up for it, but no worries if not.

You want to use Home Scrum yourself, but don’t know the person (posting online)

  • Apparently, Scrum is especially useful and effective for people who’ve not had much luck with other time-management techniques, and need more structure—like for people with ADHD, or other types of neurodivergence.
  • If you’re in a similar situation then we could both help each other out with keeping on track with it.

You want to help someone else use Home Scrum

  • I know you’ve been struggling with keeping on top of things, and it’s totally up to you how you do things, but apparently Home Scrum can help a lot in situations where other productivity methods don’t really stick, because it’s not just something you use by yourself.
  • You don’t have to, of course, but I just thought I’d offer to help you do it for a while if you wanted to try it.

Remember that despair is a valid reaction to a lifetime of disappointment. This reaction is so common that it has an official name: ‘learned helplessness.’ Many people with ADHD, for instance, have literally never found a reliable way to help themselves stay consistently, adequately organised. Time after time they have raised their hopes for a particular tool or technique, and had it fail to stick. I am still a bit in awe of Francis for being willing to try Scrum at all; he had every reason to believe it wouldn’t work. It is a huge deal that, when I came home all excited about Scrum after my first day of training at my new job, Francis said yes.

So, go in knowing that the person you’re offering your help to may reject the whole idea, because, in some cases, accepting help not only takes a massive amount of vulnerability but also what amounts to blind faith. It is a lot to ask. It is important to respect the boundaries of the person you wish to help. It may seem straightforward and hopeful to you, but that may not be the case for the other person.

You want to help children to use Scrum

You can use the same points above, but being aware of their boundaries is even more important. Parents can of course impose a new system like Home Scrum, but to truly get the children’s buy-in and give them a shared sense of ownership of the system, it is probably better to approach it as a genuine choice to which the children can say no.

I think what could make a difference to your chances of success is how Scrum is introduced to the household. If possible, I think framing Scrum as a fun new game to try, or in some other way making it seem inviting rather than obligatory, is crucial. Also, perhaps don’t make the Scrum board too over-complicated to start with. It will naturally grow over time, and when it does, the child can add their ideas to how it should develop too. One example of successful use of Home Scrum with a child comes from my friend and colleague, Paul.

You want to help teenagers to use Scrum

For teenagers, the main difference is that you rely much more on winning their genuine cooperation in order to make Home Scrum work. As such, you must be prepared to respect their boundaries if they say no. They may not want or need as much order as you are looking to impose with Scrum. Even if they could sorely do with more order in their lives, until they themselves acknowledge that need, your offer of help may unwittingly trigger shame, reactance, and end up with you both on the drama triangle.

It may help to put it forward as a thing you can try for a period of time—say, two weeks—to see how everyone likes it. Another thing that might help is to introduce it for a specific (preferably fun) project of the teen’s choosing, maybe even something you can do together. This will get you all into the swing of it, and get you both working on the same side towards a goal, and after the project is complete you can decide together whether you wish to continue it for more day-to-day activities.

Word of mouth is the main way people who might need Home Scrum find this blog. Please share this post: