Go Ahead - Take a Seat At Your Next Scrum Meeting

Jan 20, 2017     By Neya Abdi

In this game called, “How to Run a Good Meeting” managers find cheat codes everywhere. One of these popular “cheats” is the advice to hold your meetings standing up.

Why standing up? Because meetings tend to end faster. No one wants to stand fixed to one spot for too long, so participants only bring up points they absolutely need to share with the entire group. If it can wait, they’ll table it for later.

Unfortunately, holding meetings while standing has become a band-aid solution for bad meetings. If all you do to address inefficient meetings is force everyone to stand in mountain pose, you’ll wind up with a group of people who are just eager to return to their seats. What happens to actually solving problems during your meeting?

What are Agile Teams?

You may have heard the word “agile” being thrown around by colleagues, but what does it actually mean? Agile teams are cross-functional teams. They include everyone needed to produce a piece of a product. Anyone who isn’t necessary to producing a specified outcome is not involved. At least not until later.

The most popular framework for running agile teams is the scrum method. Lyssa Adkins, author of Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition, clearly outlines this process for team leaders and product owners.

The Players:

  • Product Owner
  • Scrum Master or Agile Coach
  • Team Members

The team members exclude people who are not vital to producing a specific outcome (or product). This may be users, managers, or people from the legal department. During this process, they are a distraction.

The Gameplay:

  1. Vision: Product owner has a clear idea of what they would like this team to accomplish.
  2. Product Backlog: Similar to a product requirements document, this is a list of business goals that need to be accomplished, and it is created by the product owner. These items are listed in priority sequence.
  3. Sprint Planning/Sprint Backlog: This is used to intuitively determine how much work from the product backlog can be finished within a sprint, which is a defined period of time. The team goes down the list and members commit to completing a certain task. They instinctively know when they have reached their limit for what they can complete over the course of the sprint and say so when the product owner tries to delegate the next list item.
  4. Work: For the duration of the sprint, the team works on meeting these specific goals. Each day, there is a morning scrum where members answer the following questions:
    1. What did you do yesterday?
    2. What are you planning to do today?
    3. What is standing in your way?
  5. Addressing Obstacles: Since you have a limited amount of time in your sprint, this daily scrum is vital. You make a commitment to your colleagues about what you are going to get done.
    Additionally, you collectively work towards knocking down potential obstacles during the scrum so that you can move on with your work as quickly as possible. This is where the Agile Coach can be most effective by addressing impediments, especially those that originate from outside the team.
  6. Potentially Shippable Product: The items from the sprint backlog, which were taken from the product backlog, are done. You have a tangible outcome.
  7. Sprint Review: You present the outcome to outside stakeholders and members who can provide meaningful feedback while it’s still actionable.
  8. Retrospective: The Agile Coach can facilitate a discussion about the things they will do differently, creating an agreement that is incorporated into the next sprint. It’s a productive and continuous cycle that improves the product and the process.

You can see now why you can invite your team to take a seat if you feel like it. Standing up or sitting down, if meetings are not designed around tangible outcomes and meaningful conversations, how you hold it won’t matter too much.

Agile meetings can elevate your scrums. You make a time-bound, objective-oriented commitment to your team members without getting distracted by external factors. And sprints are never longer than four weeks. You can visualize what you can accomplish in a month, but if you set a time period longer than that you run the risk of falling victim to Parkinson’s Law.

Meeting management tools are a helpful way to display your product backlog, obstacles, and more during these group collaborations. Kutamo’s online tool allows team leaders and agile coaches to export the outcome of meetings to a company’s preferred application and collaborate on multiple platforms. Discover how Kutamo can help your team master the agile approach to getting work done.

Meetings / Business