Wednesday, January 27, 2016

You Can Have Better Agile Meeting

Are people in your organization talking about how inefficient meetings are?

Are Project Managers and business leaders curious about the effectiveness of so many agile meetings: Daily Standup, Planning, Backlog Grooming, Review, Retrospective?

Agile meetings are usually above and beyond technical design meetings, architecture meetings, monthly department meetings and possibly meetings with external consultant or clients.
It’s clear there are a lot of meetings in the corporate world and which means there are a lot of opportunities for waste and inefficiency.

When business leaders in my organization began to wonder about the numerous meetings my agile teams conduct, I usually point back to the fact that we deliver high quality and reliable features every two weeks and before agile development was introduced, the development cycle was long and the quality was inconsistent.

But even with the introduction of the agile process and the revolutionary results it brings, you still should consider the efficiency of your meetings.

There are a couple rules of thumb for meeting duration. In scrum there are time boxes for everything.  And a time box is intended to be A hard stop.  The time box reinforces the dead-line focus of everything the team does.
The official Scrum Guide by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland only gives guidance for 4-week long sprints. Below are extrapolations I’ve done for 2 weeks sprints, a very popular industry practice.

For a 2-week sprint, if those 77 hours are not well managed, they could easily be wasted.

Avoid meeting waste. Follow a meeting process:

Keep to your time box and, if you constantly goof it up, fix the core issue.  Usually the core issues are  lack of planning before hand or lack of focus during the meeting.

For things like retrospective, I highly recommend a well defined meeting process. Retrospectives are intended to be creative and can be very long and chaotic if you don’t have a specific goal and a means to get there.

If you really want to knock meetings out of the park with super efficiency,  I describe a system in my article, “Change Your Meetings and Change Your Life with Meeting Facilitation (aka Meeting Magic)

Check out all 9 articles in my series of Better Meeting Magic:
  1. Planning - Improve Your Focus and Improve Your Teams Performance in Meetings
  2. Opening - Turn Tough Meetings into Successful Outcomes With an Excellent Plan and Meeting Kickoff That Creates Focus
  3. Bias Check - Change People’s Preconceptions and Prejudice into Powerful Learning Activities in Your Toughest Meetings
  4. Brainstorming - In a Meeting What is Best for Creative Problem Solving? Total Freedom or Well Defined Process?
  5. Narrowing - How to Find Great Ideas from a Massive Sea of Brainstorming Information
  6. Deciding - Always Enter a Meeting with a Goal, Always Leave a Meeting with a Decision
  7. Retrospective - Learn from the Past to Make the Future Better
  8. Closing - End a Meeting with The Confidence That Everyone Knows The Path Forward
  9. Followup - Close the Open Loops: Keep Track of Your Meeting Outcome and Follow-up
Some would say the best way to reduce meeting waste is too eliminate them.  That may be true, but you don’t get a team working in one homogenous and efficient direction without some sort of coordination and collaboration.  Meetings don’t have to be the ONLY way. I do find that effective meetings move people toward the goal faster than impromptu communication.

Please let me know how you keep from wasting time in agile meetings.  Post a comment or send me an e-mail.