What the Starrs did next was surprising. Instead of consulting relatives or friends, they looked to David’s workplace. They turned to a cutting-edge program called agile development that has rapidly spread from manufacturers in Japan to startups in Silicon Valley. It’s a system of group dynamics in which workers are organized into small teams, hold daily progress sessions and weekly reviews.

As David explained, “Having weekly family meetings increased communication, improved productivity, lowered stress and made everyone much happier to be part of the family team.”

When my wife and I adopted the agile blueprint in our own home, weekly family meetings with our then-5-year-old twin daughters quickly became the centerpiece around which we organized our family. The meetings transformed our relationships with our kids—and each other. And they took up less than 20 minutes a week.

The past few years have seen a rapid erosion of the wall that once divided work and family. New technologies allow busy employees to check in with one another during “family time” and allow busy parents to interact with their kids during “work time.” But as close as the two worlds have grown, they’ve rarely exchanged ideas. Parents hoping to improve their families have been stuck with stale techniques from shrinks, self-help gurus and other “family experts.” Meanwhile, in workplaces across America, breakthrough ideas have emerged to make teams run more smoothly.