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Scrum – Too Many Meetings


You will often find people in Agile teams cribbing about the overload of meetings. Initially I also cribbed. Then, with time I became more “Agile” and then thought “communication is a key feature” of Agile. I tried to attend meetings with interest. However, I always tend to return towards cribbing about “Overload of meetings”.

So, I thought that there must be something wrong in my interest towards meetings.

The irony was, I always attended other non project meetings with great enthusiasm and participation. So, I tried to capture the impulsive moments of boredom in meetings when I my interest drifts away from the subject.

One of the major points was beginning of discussion on topics which were not planned for the meeting. So, in this scenario, you expect one thing and the result is something else. So, if you are not prepared for what is being discussed, you will feel isolated and get into your own world.

Another meeting hunter is useless meetings. Sometimes, people meet for the sake of meeting, as a tradition. If the same job can be done via a simple email, there is no point wasting time of all the attendants. Everyone knows that this meeting is a just to follow some process, and no body will show interest in this.

If the meeting turns on into a debate, then not many will be able to sustain their interest in the meeting. Meetings should be crisp and clear. The speakers should make their points in a short and clear way. If everyone will provide every minute discussion about the point they are telling then meeting is not the place for it. The RAM that the brain has is limited. So, meeting is not the place to discuss the implementation of things to the minutest details. You need a presentation for this. Meeting is a place to take decisions on a high level. If you need to go into minute details, then the audience should be selected appropriately and they should be prepared before attending the meeting.

Other problem deals with the behavioral aspect of people. Some people are good listeners, some are so so listeners, and some are not at all a listener. Same goes for speaker, some never speak, some speak when its necessary, and some can’t stay quiet. What I have observed is that so so listeners and so so speakers are the best ones to work with. After meetings, neither your ear nor your mouth will be paining. This is where the behavioral aspect of agile fails. I will soon write in detail about the behavioral problems in Agile.

Some people have the tendency to speak in person even during the meeting, rather than addressing the whole audience. This not only makes him loose his context of meeting, but the person interrupted by him also looses the context of meeting. The meeting left is almost of no use after that. So, remember always talk to the group, not to any individual.

Finally, I have concluded, that meetings will continue to suck as its related to the behavioral aspect of people and you cannot change each and every person in world. The only meetings which I am sure will be successful, is a one with a logical moderator who commands authority and is willing to take the meeting to a conclusion rather than making it a debating amphitheatre.

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4 responses to “Scrum – Too Many Meetings

  1. David September 20, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Hi,

    In your conclusion, you say that the efficiency of a meeting depends on the maturity and the behavior of each participant and the ability of a Team Leader (Scrum Master whatever) to make sure that the discussion does not go out of the limit.

    So the title of your post “SCRUM, too many meeting” may not be appropriate because it seems the issues you mentioned are universal not specific to the SCRUM methodology.

    Cheers,

    David

  2. Samuel September 21, 2010 at 2:52 am

    I agree that sometimes scrum methodology might seem too meeting-centric, but it is far better than a document-centric aproach. It also enforces everyone to participate, which brings us to this lack of interest you’re talking about.
    One way of improving the quality of some scrum meetings (specially the planning meeting which involves the PO and some outside folks) is to do some sort of internal pre-planning meeting. People get more interested if they know what to expect.

  3. Sohil Rupani September 23, 2010 at 12:42 am

    I agree with David!!! its a generic scenario of the meetings..
    Also one of the problems with meetings are they are not time boxed so it stretches for no reason.in turn people often go off topic is what i have noticed

  4. Ashish October 3, 2010 at 12:30 am

    I agree with you last paragraph…It pin-points the solution very clearly. We used to have a manager who used to set-up a meeting and moderate it so wonderfully that the meeting always ended on time and with required decisions made.

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