I’ve used skills developed as a project manager to deliver multi-million dollar projects, develop an award winning airport management team, and even organize household tasks. One of my friends, nicknamed “Bubba,” also uses what he’s learned as a project manager–to raise his children.
Every day he and his wife evaluate their nine year old daughter and twelve year old son using an Allowance Compliance Matrix. The matrix covers whether or not they’ve cleaned the kitchen, living room, and their own bedrooms; completed their homework, and are ready on time for school. Full completion of tasks results in a full allowance. Failure to complete one or more items means their pay is docked.
His son and daughter (we’ll call them Maddy and Tripp because those are in fact their real names) have proven to be tough negotiators. Most of their queries are related to what constitutes successful completion of a deliverable. Questions posed by them to their father/Family Project Manager include:
Do I have to clean the whole kitchen?
What if I only clean half?
What if I thought I cleaned it all but missed some spaces?
What if I am sick one day–do I still get paid?
Can I substitute a square for a task not on the square? And can I negotiate a higher rate if it’s a larger task?
When my accountant wife saw this chart she asked, “Do they get paid for weekends?” He replied that under their current labor contract they still have to do their standard chores, but they don’t get paid. It appears that they just get a break from getting paid, but not from their family duties. Labor organizers are likely lining up to represent them.
Recently he introduced a new method of performance evaluation. All allowances are now paid in “Bubba Bucks” and are redeemed at the end of the week for dollars. The exchange rate is based on a floating basket of currency parameters which include overall attitude, school Grade Point Average, etc. This new policy has triggered a whole new round of questions.
I remember as a first grader my mother set up a similar program where we were rewarded for successful completion of tasks. The fact that I took to the new program with zeal was probably a good future indicator of my career as an Air Force officer and a project manager. Unfortunately for me, my mother soon tired of the administrative requirements of the program and we went back to our semi-chaotic method of paying allowances.
You may think that using project management skills to raise children is a little regimented. I do have my concerns that when they grow up they may choose to misapply the skills they’ve developed to become lawyers or IRS Agents. In fact, when they heard that this posting was coming out, Maddy enquired about compensation for using her name. Maybe entertainment lawyer is more in line with her interests.
I’m optimistic that Tripp and Maddy are learning about the real work world, and maybe even developing experience they can use in professions that make society better. But it’s probably a good thing that I don’t have kids of my own to practice the tools of my trade.