A Polyamorous Couple Used Agile Scrum Business Strategy to Confront Jealousy, Communication

  • The New York Times recently reported on a 20-person polycule.
  • Members of the group used agile scrum principles to navigate opening up their relationship.
  • The process is often used to promote faster and more collaborative workflows at companies.

Like all relationship structures, nonmonogamy involves work. One person might struggle with jealousy; another might feel neglected by their primary partner. As the members of a 20+ person polycule recently told The New York Times, great communication is key.

To navigate opening up their marriage and entering the polycule, one couple used an interesting tactic: agile scrum.

Agile scrum is a combination of business principles and strategy. The idea is for teams to break down their deliverables into smaller tasks and shorter timeframes, reviewing their progress as they go. That way they can swiftly adapt to changes to produce more effective results in the long run.

In The New York Times, Ann said the couple practiced agile scrum “for a year and a half, at least once a month, sometimes six to 10 hours of hard poly-processing.”

Unlike Ann, who described herself as “on and off nonmonogamous” and a “relationship anarchist,” her husband, Robert, initially struggled with opening their marriage up. “I was going through some depression, and when we had sex I had so much stress,” he told The New York Times.

They said agile scrum — which they learned from the podcast, Multiamory — helped them to find themselves and each other within the polycule dynamic.

And they’re not the only people to use this strategy in a relationship.

Agile was coined by software developers

In 2001, 17 software developers in Utah got together and wrote a manifesto on ways to improve their work.

Agile is a set of principles that promotes collaboration and flexibility among teams to produce faster and more effective results. The values include “individuals and interactions over processes and tools” and “responding to change over following a plan.”

Scrum is a concrete framework based on agile philosophy that involves smaller, cross-functional teams delivering products in short cycles, or “sprints.” It’s essentially a more structured approach to agile principles, allowing teams to frequently complete projects together and give each other feedback.

A writer came up with using agile scrum in her relationship

At some point, agile scrum crossed over into the realm of love.

The first mention I could find of this online is in a 2016 Medium post by writer Alanna Irving, who described how she used agile scrum in her relationship. “We were inspired by another couple we knew who started running ‘relationship sprints’ because they weren’t sure they wanted to stay together,” Irving wrote in the blog, which was later referenced in the Multiamory podcast. “After each sprint, they assessed if they wanted to continue.”

Irving outlined her process, which involved a monthly review, discussion questions, action points, and an appreciation round. The hosts of the Multiamory podcast then tried and reviewed the method themselves, specifically in the context of polyamorous relationships.”What’s nice about this structure is rather than that person needing to nag you…next month, we’re going to come back and review this,” Multiamory podcast host Jase Lindgren said in the episode.

Agile scrum might help couples adapt to change faster

Over time, Ann and Robert settled into the polycule, with Ann spending about 60% of her time with Robert and the other 25% with another partner. She still utilizes check-ins frequently. “There are check-ins, but the check-ins aren’t for permission,” she said. “It’s, I’m doing these things, I’m going to be gone for these two weeks, what do you need from me?”

Partners in nonmonogamous relationships often speak of how important it is to communicate well, whether they’re navigating the holidays together, co-parenting, or managing their finances together. Some even write official contracts to make sure they’re on the same page.

For others, the best relationship strategy is one favored by successful businesses. Just as with a rapidly growing startup, agile scrum helped scale up Ann and Robert’s marriage.

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