Scrum Meetings – Relief or Burden?

by on July 7, 2011 · 1 comment

Scrum defines a set of required meetings: Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Scrum Review, and Scrum Retrospective. Additionally, there might be a Scrum of Scrums, if you’re running multiple Scrum teams in parallel. If you’re doing two week sprints you spend at least half-a-day per week in Scrum meetings. Isn’t that a lot of additional overhead?

Scrum Meeting Basics

Let’s look at the underlying logic of these Scrum meetings. How were they formed? When designing Scrum, Jeff Sutherland analyzed research on hyperperforming teams. He found out that one of the shared, team traits was a daily meeting. This led to the Daily Scrum. Additionally, it is necessary to decide what to do in the next iteration, hence the Scrum Planning. Another common trait was delivering early and often, as well as collecting feedback as soon as possible. So, the Scrum Review is a no brainer. And, to become better and better you have to look back and decide what to improve in the next run. This is done in the Sprint Retrospective.

Are There Too Many Meetings?

When organizations introduce Scrum, I often hear people groan about all the extra meetings. Instead of “getting things done” because they’re now insulated by Scrum, they spend a lot of time in these new meetings. This can have several reasons:

  1. Scrum meetings are too long
  2. Older meetings are kept
  3. Additional meetings are scheduled

Fight “Death March” Meetings

Scrum meetings all have a recommended duration. Depending on the Sprint length, the Scrum Planning and Scrum Review meetings should be 2-4hrs max. And the Daily Scrum must not exceed 15 minutes (10 minutes are better). To stay efficient, it’s very important that your Scrum Master enforces the time boxes for meetings. Otherwise, the meetings drag along and drain the team.

Does that CSS guru or jQuery specialist really need to be in attendance for next quarter’s product roadmap discussions? Should any developer be held hostage through such abstract debates?

Scrum Meetings Are Designed To Be Sufficient

One design goal of the founders of Scrum was to come up with the minimal necessary meeting set. They only added essential meetings for hyperperforming teams. But, what happens in most organizations, is that the Scrum meetings don’t replace existing meetings, but get added to the existing meeting schedule. And, this is a very bad idea. Everyone in the whole company has well defined points to touch base with the Scrum team. They can find out what happens and they can deliver input. No other meetings should be required.

Meeting Discipline Will Save You

If you haven’t heard by now, Meetings are Toxic.
By keeping your Scrum meetings vigilantly time boxed and avoiding extra meetings, your Scrum teams are free to do what they’re hired for: deliver value!

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