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How Scrum Saved My Wedding

So what does a couple do when they are getting married in less than two weeks, and there is a pile of things to get done for the wedding? Well, when the groom-to-be is me, the obvious answer is that they organize the work using Scrum. I had floated the idea to my fiance a little while ago, and she wanted nothing to do with it. In her mind she felt that a list on our whiteboard would be just fine.

When we found ourselves a mere two weeks from the big day, I once again asked, “are you ready to do Scrum yet?” She reluctantly agreed, tweeting her displeasure for the world to see and we got underway. We knew there was a pretty big list of things to do so we started off with a Blitz Planning session.

I grabbed a stack of sticky-notes and we started to blurt out tasks that needed to be completed if this wedding was going to fly. As the tasks were identified I jotted them down onto the sticky-notes. Once we felt that we had a fairly comprehensive list, we took a few minutes to give each story a complexity value. A value of 1 was fairly trivial such as “pick up the wedding rings from the goldsmith”, while a 5 was reserved for things such as, “write our wedding vows.” We stuck with the Fibonacci numbers to allow for uncertainty in the larger tasks.

Since we had approximately two weeks before the wedding it made sense for us to have two, one week Sprints. With a table covered in pink sticky-notes, we moved each of the stories into one of two piles representing each Sprint. Now we were able to do a more fine-grained planning of each Sprint.

We knew that the more complex stories had higher risk associated with them so we made sure to start those as early as we could. We did however remain mindful to not overload Sprint 1 with only the large stories. There were some stories that needed to be done on certain days, and some that had dependencies on other teams which required some clever shuffling.

It didn’t take very long before we had our Scrum board organized into two Sprints. We split the board into columns representing each day allowing us to put the story cards onto the day we intended to complete them. This gave us a really good visual representation of the work ahead. This layout is actually very similar to the Scrum board my team at Point2 uses. Having a visual representation of when stories are scheduled to start and expected to finish is a great tool for the team, as well as stakeholders to get a sense of how well the Sprint is going.

We’re about halfway into Sprint 1 and things are going as I was expecting. Stories are being burnt up on a daily basis, while some of the more complex ones are taking longer than we had initially estimated (sanding and re-staining the kitchen light fixture…..which needed to be done prior to our rehearsal dinner at our house). Some stories we had hoped to start on a certain day have not yet started, while some were completed early. We’ve also seen a couple of new stories injected into the Sprint requiring us to reshuffle the board.

Obviously the Scrum process at home can only be, “Scrum-like”, but as the Sprints progress I am seeing many of the same things that my Scrum team at Point2 experience from Sprint to Sprint. So maybe Scrum isn’t actually going to save my wedding since I don’t think it was ever in jeopardy, but I do think it was a great exercise to see how applying an Agile method in a completely non-technical area yielded many of the same results seen in the software development industry. If anything, applying Scrum to the wedding preparation was a useful tool in devising a plan, allowing us to visualize and execute that plan, and have a little fun along the way….geek-style.

By Hemant J. Naidu

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  1. October 5, 2009 at 10:28 PM | #1

    Brilliant post Hemant.

    I’m hiring a writer – interested?
    :)

  2. November 9, 2009 at 5:25 PM | #2

    Scrum is really good at managing tightly coupled processes — i.e. ones where there is a well defined end and there are a lot of well understood tasks, that can be completed unambiguously and which have clear dependencies with other tasks.

    A software project, a product launch and yes, a wedding (kind of like a launch) are examples of tightly coupled processes. The fact that a wedding is not technical is irrelevent.

    Congrats on your wedding and thanks for the post. I’ve written about Scrum and tightly coupled processes here

    http://onproductmanagement.net/2008/10/16/the-value-of-scrum/

    Saeed

  1. July 28, 2010 at 12:13 PM | #1
  2. April 23, 2013 at 10:12 AM | #2

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