How to Paint the World

When I spill a few drops of paint on the floor, I immediately cover the droplets with some pieces of masking tape. This prevents me from stepping into the paint five minutes later and then walking it all over my house and into the carpet. It’s a simple trick, but very effective. I discovered it myself.

I have quite a few other tips because I’m painting our house and I’m doing it the agile way. I might call it Agile Painting, or Painting 3.0.

I do all the painting by myself but I collaborate intensively with the stakeholder: my spouse. Almost every day, we discuss our passions, paints, palettes, and priorities. We often discuss dependencies because the library depends on the office, and the office depends on the bookcase, and the bookcase depends on the floor boards, and the floor boards depend on the moulds, and the moulds depend on the curtains, and so on, and so on. And when my friends from the US announced that they’d like to use our guest room for a week, our road map went out the window and we came up with a new planning.

I deliver in small increments to enjoy the benefits of a fast feedback cycle. My first paint job was the smallest room in the house: the upstairs toilet. This allowed me to get familiar with repairing, sanding, and painting walls in a small amount of time, and in a place that was forgiving when it came to beginner’s mistakes. I then moved on to a slightly bigger job: the bathroom. And then my office. Each small paint job allowed me to quickly learn from my mistakes, to enjoy the value of what I had delivered, and to stay motivated and get confident to take on the larger rooms.

Part of the work is that I reflect on my results and on my mood. I find painting surprisingly enjoyable but only when I don’t feel stressed and when I feel that I have everything under control. I hate getting paint all over my hands and on the floor and I don’t like my fresh paint getting damaged from tape or bad walls. I enjoy getting better at estimating how much paint I will need and how much time the next room is going to take. And I take pride in the fact that every paint job I finish seems slightly better than the previous one. Oh, and I love compliments for a job well done. See my Facebook stream. 😁

Last but not least, I improve my work continuously and deliberately. By now, I have watched dozens of YouTube videos about painting walls, doors, and ceilings. Each time when something bothers me, I find a way to solve the problem. I use marker tape to cover any paint drops on the floor. I have at least three different ways of repairing holes and cracks in walls. I found a way to pour paint from a can without spilling. And I know how to keep paint brushes and rollers wet so I can continue my work the next day.

Perhaps you noticed that I don’t use well-known agile practices such as planning poker, kanban boards, burn-down charts, or test-driven painting. These practices don’t make much sense to me in my context as a home painter. But my approach is still agile because I collaborate, deliver, reflect, and improve with every new paint job. We may care about specific practices but first we must care about the heart of agile.

In the end, agile is just a word that we can talk and argue about endlessly. What you and I think of the word is not very important. To be honest, I find my next paint job quite a bit more interesting because I am here painting for happiness.

(c) 2017 hannah balloo, Creative Commons

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