"What do happy families do right and what can I learn from them to make my family happier?"
This is the question that TED speaker Bruce Feiler, author of "The Secrets of Happy Families," recently posed — and the answer he came up with was quite surprising. In his TED talk, Feiler explains how some families have begun using the Agile Software Development system to run their families — and how everyone is happier because of it.
What does software design have to do with family dynamics?
The "Agile" design model was created in 2001 by a group of software designers who wanted to encourage a flexible work environment where ideas flowed up from the bottom up (rather than orders flowing down from the top,) where all members of a team gave constant feedback and accountability. The idea behind the Agile model is that employees — or in the case of families, children — essentially manage themselves.
Would that fly at your house? Feiler is clear that he's not advocating an absence of discipline, but rather a system in which all players share responsibility in creating happiness in the family dynamic. The cornerstone of the Agile family system is the family meeting. Not a long, drawn-out affair where old grievances are aired and complaints registered, but rather the Agile family meeting is an opportunity for each member of the family to answer three questions:
1. What worked well for our family this week?
2. What didn't work well?
3. What will we agree to work on in the week ahead?
In this sense, kids and parents alike are given the opportunity to reflect on the good and bad from the previous week and decide upon a course of action to promote happiness. The weekly meeting ensures that issues are addressed quickly before they become major obstacles.
Feiler breaks down the Agile system into three essential "planks:" adapt all of the time, empower your children by enlisting their help in their own upbringing, and preserve the core values of your family. He explains each in more detail in his presentation, which you can watch below.
Do you think the Agile family model could work in your home? If it means an end to chaos, it might certainly be worth a try.
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