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Run your household like a CEO

(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY Confession time: Have you ever sent your spouse an Outlook invite? Megan Brown's husband once did -- for a weekend golf outing. He wasn't actually inviting her, though. He wanted to make sure she had it on her schedule, and Outlook was the most obvious way to do that.

It didn't seem quite right though. "It was a really clunky, horrible way to manage things," says Brown, and it's one of the reasons that Brown and her sister-in-law Kirsten Bischoff recently launched HATCHEDIt.com, an online, secure system for families to share calendars, to-do lists and other such things usually found on fridge doors. The goal? Solving the communication problems that plague families. If everyone knows the schedule, "We realized that this saved us a lot of arguing. It really streamlined the way we communicated. It takes the emotion out as well," says Brown. The babysitter knows that mom has a meeting with the team that always runs late. Dad now knows that Junior has track practice after school, so he won't head over to pick him up at the usual time. Delegation seems much more professional. Bischoff now sends chore reminders to her 13-year-old daughter via her daughter's cell, much in the way executives have relied on middle managers to get things done.

Of course, no system is perfect. Though everyone on a shared HATCHEDIt account gets a daily email reminding them what's on the schedule, there's no real accountability, like the way a CEO would hold line managers responsible for P&L. If someone doesn't take out the trash, you're probably not going to fire them (though docking a bonus -- aka allowance -- is totally fair game).

But who knows - maybe the ability to manage your family like a business will invite the sort of obsession with grand vision statements (and perks?) that CEOs are known for. The rest of the family will have to send an invite for a meeting to debate if mom gets to fly via private jet, or if she'll have to stick with the economy-class minivan.

Do you run your family like a CEO?

Photo courtesy flickr user Ed Yourdon
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