The quintessential meeting in agile environments is the daily scrum. This is a daily standup (or sit-down, if the team prefers) where the team checks in with each other, assesses progress against sprint commitments, and collaboratively plans the day. It is ceremonial in the sense that it takes place daily, almost without fail, and follows the same format with the same objectives.
But it can lose its luster and become boring, ineffective and routine, in a bad way.
Signs Your Meetings Need a Boost
Here are some telltale signs that your daily scrum meetings need some recharging:
- People are not on time or enter the meetings in a harried state.
- Conversation persists about non-business topics.
- People are disengaged, such as doing other work or tinkering with their phones.
- One or two people regularly take an oversize chunk of the time.
- Some people give essentially the same input every day.
Fresh Meeting Shake-Up Ideas
If you see these symptoms in your daily scrum meetings, it’s time to shake things up a bit. Here are some ideas:
- Reiterate the purpose of the meetings: to get a feel for where we are as a team and what we need to focus on today and the rest of the sprint.
- Suggest that keeping this purpose in mind, the format can be changed up a bit.
- Consider whether you should dictate a change or ask for input.
- If you dictate the change, implement it immediately. For example, instead of going around the room to each person, you could walk through the list of tasks, user stories, or epics that are on the plan for the sprint.
- If you decide to ask for input, make it structured and expedient. Don’t allow things to get wrapped into the process.
The key to solving the problem of sluggish meetings is to first remember the purpose of the meeting, and second to quickly implement a different way of addressing this objective of the meeting.
What can you do today to freshen up a daily meeting to more effectively fulfill its purpose?