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Task Management Using Scrum

by Lori Woodward on 11/24/2010 10:09:19 AM

Today's Post  is by Lori Woodward, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. She also writes "The Artist's Life" blog on American Artists' Forum. Lori is a member of The Putney Painters, an invitational group that paints under the direction of Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik.  Find out how you can be a guest author. 

 

 

Last week, we talked about Chickens and Pigs -- our art dealers/galleries are chickens and we artists are pigs. If you didn't get a chance to read last week's post, click here. It'll explain all about these animals and how they relate to our business. If you don't feel like clicking back, let me just say that Chickens provide eggs and pigs provide ham. The gallery owner doesn't lose much if they lose one artist. An artist (the pig) provides paintings which make or break him/her. Our "hams" are on the line.

 

The Product Owner/Manager = Gallerist

 

With Scrum, the product owner or project manager communicates with the client - in fact this person is "the voice" of the client. He knows what his clients want, and more often than not, the gallerist represents the collector's interests rather than the artists. Without collectors, a gallery will not survive. The gallery can always get more artists, but attracting qualified collectors is their main aim.

 

The Scrum Master = Accountability Partner

 

This person protects the team (pig/artist) from the product owner (PO). Scrum masters do not tell the team what to do, they are merely there to help facilitate productivity and remove obstacles or "impediments" to the getting the project done.  My husband is my scrum master - this is useful because he understands the process of scrum from his software based work environment. He essentially is a supportive partner whom I meet with often for a short overview where we ask three questions

 

1. What did I accomplish today? 2. What do I plan for tomorrow?  3.What got in my way today? (impediments).

 

It's my scrum master's job to help me work through the impediments, help keep me focused on my current goals (usually for the week), and cheer me on. Scrum masters do not criticize - they are helpful cheerleaders who are partners in productivity. On occasion, my SC (scrum master) may help offload business tasks by doing them himself. We are a team who gets the job done.

 

If my husband were not able to fill this role without being controlling, I would opt to hire a really good friend (preferably not an artist who is in competition with me, but someone who understands my process). This could be a volunteer or even a paid coach. I like the volunteer route - saves me a lot of money, but I've hired coaches in the past, and they are worth the price.

 

The Team's Role: (I am "the team").

 

In a software environment, the team is made up of 4-9 people -architects, engineers, QA testers, etc. Unfortunately for artists, we are our entire team. It's up to us to plan, design, make, test, and package/ship our products. Wow... I'm tired already. As soon as I am able, I'll hire a framer and shipper.

 

My relationship to the Product Owner = Gallerist

 

If I'm hiring someone else to sell my work - a dealer or gallery, I need to take into account that they usually represent collectors' wants before the interests of their artists. With a software project, the PO sets a list of standards or requirements based on customer wants/needs and presents these requirements to the team.  Then it's the team's job to create a "to do" list (Sprint Backlog) based on customer requirements. It's also the team's job to figure out HOW to meet those requirements efficiently.

 

So here's where the analogy between software development and art departs. As the owner of my own business, I am not the gallerist's employee. I want to work in my own style and subject matter - not giving the gallerist too much power over what I produce. In essence, where art is concerned, the gallerist finds artists to match their clients' needs. On occasion, the gallerist may opt to take on a new artist and promote him/her to clients, but usually, the gallery tries to find artists whom the clients already want to collect.

 

How I (team) Handle Collectors' Requirements:

 

Because I don't want the gallerist to have control of my art content, here's how I meld my wants with potential collectors'. In this sense, I'm the product owner, so I anticipate which collectors will buy my work and why.  Here's my list of "assumed" product requirements:

 

1. Professional quality substrate and materials.

 

2. Makes an impact from across the room. (competes with many paintings on the wall)

 

3. Completed in a reasonable amount of time.  Depending on the size, I hope to complete a painting in 20-40 hours.

 

4. Recognizable as "my work" before the signature is seen.

 

The Sprint = My Painting Project

 

Here's where it gets really interesting in an organized way... designing my sprint -  a locked in time period where I determine to meet the set of requirements listed above. I also decide HOW I will meet my goals for each painting. I do this by making a "sprint backlog"... a detailed "to do" list that will insure my success in a reasonable amount of time. I share my progress with my Scrum Master. The awesome thing about sprints is that I also keep track of difficulties weaknesses and other "impediments" as I sprint along. With each sprint, I improve as an artist!  I'll site examples next week. Stay tuned...

 

Yes, this all may seem cumbersome, but it really works while eliminating confusion - I always know what I need to be working on next as the process limits distractions.



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Related Posts:

Business Management For Artists

The Tyranny of the Task List

Building Confidence With Action

Start New Year's Resolutions Early


Topics: art marketing | FineArtViews | inspiration 

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 22 Comments

Carol McIntyre
via canvoo.com
Lori;
Thank you for your generosity in explaining the SCRUM methodology and how it can apply to artists. I am beginning to resonate with it and am in fact, going to print off your article and start drawing the system on a white board! Fortunately, I have a husband who just might like playing The Scrum Master.

Can a turkey fill in for a chicken this weekend? LOL! Happy Thanksgiving!

Spencer Meagher
via canvoo.com
Hi Lori. You make an interesting comment about being in competition with artist friends. I don't necessarily view other artists as competitors. I think styles or mediums are so different it doesn't really impair the chance to sell. If they like my work they will buy.

Lori Woodward
via canvoo.com
Carol, yes of course we can use a Turkey this week!

Spencer, as I reviewed the text of this blog today, I cringed when I read my sentence about "being in competition with other artists". I don't really feel that way, but some artists are competitive with me while others are my partners in the artworld.

More accurately, I don't often choose other artists because they are way too busy. I find it best if I have an accountability partner who is not an artist but someone who is interested in seeing me succeed as one. That person must have at least 15 minutes (preferably daily) to go over the 3 questions with. In Scrum, they're called "Standup" meetings because they're meant to get to the point, report and then get back to work.


Teresa Tromp
via canvoo.com
Dear Lori,

I have known quite a few srums in my life, and they never supported my artwork on an emotional or any other level. But God did send me a step-dad who always complements my work and encourages me to continue the great artwork race, so I understand the scrum master theory.
What really knocked my socks off is #4 on your list of assumed product requirements:
4. Recognizable as "my work" before the signature is seen.
To me that means an artist must have a recognizable style. This is something I am constantly aware of and constantly working on. I think I am too anxious about this, and should just paint, and let it happen.
Thank you for your great post, Lori
Happy Thanksgiving to all

Spencer Meagher
via canvoo.com
I understand what you are saying Lori. Its good to have a non-artist review since they won't share our bias. I also agree meetings should be short and to the point so we can get back to work.

Helen Horn Musser
via canvoo.com
LOri, you alwways give us good advise; found my art dealer and a gallery. He is a good souce of encouragement. Couldn't be happier.Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving. Am cooking up a storm for my family. Friday I'll get back to art.

Lori Woodward
via canvoo.com
yes, Theresa - you're correct in that style develops naturally over time. Paint what you love, seek to steadily grow and improve, and you will arrive at a style.

Spencer. I just thought of another reason why I don't want my SM to be an artist. Artists feel they need to critique my work, but for this job, all I want is someone to check up on my progress so I don't goof off too much. I do have other artists critique my work - those who care about my growth and are much better than I am. They also need to know a fair amount about art and what makes art great.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Helen, don't wear yourself out, and have a great celebration.




Patsy Taylor
via canvoo.com
Dear Lori,

Thank you very much for the Scrum posts. This has been extremely helpful especially since I've tried to have a friend help before but I was unable to define her role as in regards to my business. The lack of correct and necessary boundaries just didn't work. Because I am not able to take on all the tasks of the business without finding exquisite excuses to avoid the parts I don't like it is imperative that I have a good support system. Thank you for helping me get that system more firmly established. I look forward to your next posts.

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Carol McIntyre
via canvoo.com
I agree with Lori, that it is good/healthy to work with non-artists. They offer a perspective and support that is different and often refreshing.

Spencer, another emotion that can get in the way with other artists is "envy/jealousy." I have experienced artists who do not like my ability to use my left brain or that I am disciplined, consequently they lash out. It is weird and at least now I can identify it and let it roll.

Create beautiful Thanksgiving dinner tables, everyone! :)

Spencer Meagher
via canvoo.com
FfHey Lori I am so glad to see you mention your goal is to complete a painting in 20 -40 hours. Artists tend to guard this info almost like most people refuse to talk about how much money they make. If I charge $300 for a painting and a buyer learns it took 5 hours to complete they may be aghast that I made $60 an hour! They don't see all the peripheral time that went into making it.

Esther J. Williams
via canvoo.com
Lori, I have had a scrum manager for years, never called her that. I call her my cheerleader, she is nearly 90 years old and smart as a whip. I call her up on the phone and tell her all about my latest art creations, shows, buyers and excursions into the wild. I tell her when I am depressed and want to give up. She cheers me on, she tells me to paint, paint, paint. She is not an artist, but a very wise old woman, wise in years of experience in life.
What we realized that we have is a sounding off system, she listens to me, offers support and advice (not in techniques) and I listen to her air things too. It is a two-way street. We really help each other and are great friends although I rarely get to see her in person anymore, she moved five hours away.
What I am getting to is that merely talking to someone who genuinely cares about your art career is the greatest boost you can receive. When we speak to others, thoughts are released into the air and it takes a load of our chest. Little concerns or even big concerns can be released and that person who listens can either validate what you are planning or question it with objective intelligence. Solutions eventually arrive, enthusiasm generates and the urge to surge right into painting with clarity erupts. I have moved into directions that benefit my creative production because of her. I know I won`t have her for much longer, I cherish all our conversations everyday.
I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!


Tom weinkle
via canvoo.com
Esther, sounds like a great person.

Lori, thanks...you've articulated a practical system for all of us.

I guess I feel my design work is all about anticipating client wants and needs so I use my art as a way to try and capture what I want and need. I hope others like it too. But I do get your point about applying yourself and being productive. I hear about architects and designers who seem to be amazingly productive and there activities are widespread... Writing, art, lectures, sculpture, etc.

I suppose your system is a way for all of us to maximize potential.

Donna Robillard
via canvoo.com
My husband, also, is my main support system. I think your four requirements are right-on. Looking forward to reading your Sprint method.

T. Miller
via canvoo.com
Looking forward to hearing about sprints. I'd like to learn how to make the most out of my own, at least if it refers to what I think it does. Thanks for the post.

Barb Stachow
via canvoo.com
Hi Lori, Always enjoy your articles. One thing I never knew was that I have a style and don't even know it. At our last Art Club Meeting I realized that I could tell who had painted what as we invite an artist from the community to critique one work of art per meeting. I looked around the room as my painting came up and noticed that many people knew it was mine too. I am currently my own scrum...and I'm also using my husband as you are.

Joanne Benson
via canvoo.com
Hi Lori, Thanks for continuing the SCRUM discussion. I don't have an accountability partner but I can see the value of that. Thanks for the 4 collector's requirements. I truly believe the impact across a room is one of the biggest. I'm striving to have more impact! And a recognizeable style. Happy Thanksgiving. We do have much to be thankful for!

Carol Schmauder
via canvoo.com
As usual, a great post Lori. I haven't got someone who helps me manage my art career (a scrum master) and I think it would be very helpful if I did. So far I am a one-woman team. When my husband retires in a few months I think he will participate more in my endeavors.

Sue Martin
via canvoo.com
Lori and all, for the most part I am my own scrum master, and I ask myself those weekly questions as I plan my next week. But I also have a "master mind" group I meet with every Friday morning. They are not artists but are small business owners. Periodically, I share with them my goals and they help hold me accountable by asking me how I'm doing. They also support me by attending art shows and "buzzing" about my shows in their other networks. It really does help to have an accountability partner or team.

Jeanean Songco Martin
via canvoo.com
Thank you for sharing your scrum insights Lori. I have known for years that it is very important to have colleagues whom you respect and can bounce ideas off of. In return, I encourage my colleagues to continue on their individual path. I guess you could say it is a "mutual admiration society", but only to a degree, because these people are the ones who will actually "level" with you and give their honest responses, not the ones they know you want to hear. They won't tear your work apart or act jealous but be supportive of your efforts and give positive critiques. Ultimately, however, you are the last voice to be heard. One must paint from the heart and know that the image speaks for you and no one else.



Jo Allebach
via canvoo.com
I have a best friend who could be considered my scrum master. She is also an artist but paints abstract while I paint impressionistic so we do not "compete". She can be a little too eager to please and not give strong enough concepts so ultimately I am my own scrum master. The buck stops here.

Lisa Call
via canvoo.com
"Then it's the team's job to create a "to do" list (Sprint Backlog) based on customer requirements."

This is not correct. In scrum the PO creates the backlog and owns the backlog. If you are saying the gallery owner is the PO then you are saying they get to tell you what to produce.

PO prioritizes the backlog also. So they would get to tell you what order to do things also.

And the PO gets to vote at the end of each sprint - yes or no - did the team fulfill the requirements. If the answer is no they have to start over again.

POs and scrum masters are considered chickens in most scrum teams. It is just management and the customers that are the chickens.

I think the gallerist as PO is not a good analogy. They are customers. You need to be your own PO to maintain control over your own career.

rich nelson
via canvoo.com
There are a lot of interesting ideas here! I'm just getting back to these as we opened our own gallery in December, so this post gives us a lot to consider.










 

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