Tackle Life Together

A blog by Sally Waters

sally [at] homescrum .co.uk

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Our team dynamic with Home Scrum

Like many couples, Francis and I aim to be equal partners in life. However, that doesn’t always translate into equal effort in every endeavour. When it comes to Scrum, in general, I have often ended up doing more of the work in this part of our relationship: I adapt our board set-up, I usually instigate the Scrum events, I often write up new events into our calendar. Francis is committed to it, but without me he freely admits he wouldn’t be able to maintain Scrum on his own.

Since Francis has ADHD, our Scrum system is mainly for him, and he is squarely a ‘user’ of our system. I have drifted between the roles of ‘helper’ and ‘user’ over the last five years. At first, I had my own organisational systems and I didn’t want to give up my way of doing things, so I was less using the board for myself and more to help Francis keep using it. However, over time I eventually decided it made more sense to use the Scrum board for my own planning too, since then there is only one system to maintain.

How is this dynamic fair? Well, for one thing, I see the end result as worth it. In our case, we don’t have a realistic alternative; without Scrum, we’d be back to me having to nag and keep track of everything in both of our lives. Before Home Scrum, I had no meaningful, effective way in which I could help Francis cope with his ADHD. It is honestly already a big reward to no longer watch helplessly as he struggles, and instead see him gain in confidence and independence. But more than that, it is also a very canny investment, since it ultimately means we can share much more of the work overall. Home Scrum gives Francis the capability to contribute equally in most areas of our life together: housework, earning money, looking after the dog, keeping track of appointments. 

There is one more reason why I am happy to take on most of the responsibility for our Scrum system. It is that Francis and I are different, and we have different abilities and interests, and so we are suited to different things. I happen to be very good at planning and using methodical systems. Francis has me beat in a lot of other areas, but his brain is built in such a way that planning and being methodical are much harder for him. It is fair to arrange a division of labour that suits us both. In a much wider sense, equality is not about giving everyone the exact same amount of resources, because everyone has different needs. (There is an academic theory related to this called the Capability Approach.) I think the cartoon below illustrates this concept nicely.

Two versions of an image showing three people trying to watch a baseball game over a fence. One person is very short, one medium, and one tall. They have three boxes.
In the left image, labelled 'Equality', each person is standing on one of the boxes, but that means that only the tall and medium person can see over the fence.
In the right image, labelled 'Equity', the tall person is not standing on a box, but can still see over the fence; the medium person is using one box, and can see over; the short person is standing on two boxes, and can see over.
Original concept by Craig Froehle (https://twitter.com/CRA1G). Interaction Institute for Social Change (interactioninstitute.org) | Artist: Angus Maguire (madewithangus.com).
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