Goodbye Meeting Marathon – Feel the Liberation of Going Remote

In large organisations you might find yourself confronted with a common challenge – the illusive meeting timeslot. As a ScrumMaster, one of the first steps in a new team is to put together a tentative working model including a scrum meeting schedule. Scrum comes with a default working model, which describes elements such as what meetings we will have, who the participants are, what the timeslots and a few points about the agenda (all of this you can find in the Scrum Checklist). Once this initial plan is there, the next hurdle is finding available meeting rooms, and once that box is ticked, the invites go out.

‘Meeting rejected’

ScrumMasters are very careful to explain to the teams at the very beginning of their collaboration and try to get everyone on board in understanding what the aim of each particular scrum meeting is, and that they need to block the agreed-upon timeslots in their calendars. Some people call scrum meetings our ceremonies because they are essential to the scrum working model. The meetings are where you coordinate your team colleagues, prioritize, write user stories, review the outcomes and your way of working together.Each of the meetings has its own reason of existence and is designed to improve the way we work by giving more focus, clarity and efficiency, and of course by posing the right questions in order to produce better quality and useful products and services.Despite of that, what usually follows the invitations to a meeting series for new teams are rejections due to parallel meetings. All in all, it can be quite a challenge ensuring that people are in the meeting and that timeslots have as few clashes as possible.You might now ask me: but isn’t the attendance to scrum meetings voluntary? Well, yes, being part of a scrum team is voluntary as well. Just as committing to user stories and tasks is voluntary. But once you have committed yourself to being part of the team, you agreed to attend meetings. Your team colleagues rely on you and your commitment. That is why it is one of the five essential values of scrum and the agile mindset (learn more about scrum and agile values in this video).

Remote seems to be the game changer

Given the circumstances in which we find ourselves in the last weeks, many of us are working from home office. And it is quite amazing what this has done to our meetings! Suddenly, the calendars are looking a lot emptier without the back-to-back marathon meetings.How did this happen? Maybe it is because remote meetings are generally more exhausting than meetings in person, so many have been cancelled. Or maybe we began discovering the art and importance of meeting selection and focus.A meeting 101 is that it needs an agenda. This is how we know whether we should be there and how we should prepare ourselves for the meeting. Meetings without an agenda have a tendency to (unsurprisingly) turn into chaos. This becomes even more pronounced with remote work. Those kinds of remote meetings are not only chaotic, but they also bring very little value, and have the potential to increase frustration exponentially. Working remotely seems to have increased this awareness and once some meetings were ‘rethought’ perhaps there wasn’t really an agenda worth having and meetings disappeared from the calendars.

Scrum on ‘home turf’

Quite simply, a clear advantage of scrum meetings is that they have a clear agenda, a clear rhythm and an unambiguous goal. In times when many teams communicate exclusively online, these factors that scrum offers ensure focus in meetings, which means that things really get done. It is therefore unsurprising that the meetings that get cancelled or pushed back are not the scrum meetings. After all, they ensure that our scrum teams and therefore the organisations keep going.

And what now?

You could end up feeling lost without a daily meeting marathon, while at same time getting everything else done quicker. What do you do with all of this time? Maybe learn a new skill or take part in a remote training or workshop. I like to add this to the list of reasons why a four, or even three-day working week is not inconceivable because there is so much to achieve in less time if you are focused and committed.Foto: Unsplash License, Eric Rothermel

Agile Toolbox
Scrum
Scrum Meetings
Change
Meetings
Tihomir Vollmann-Popovic
April 30, 2020

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