Getting the Most out of Your Agile Meetings
One of the most common complaints of any software team during a retrospective is the issue of too many meetings. While agile ceremonies have the potential to provide a lot of value to the team when done correctly, often teams find themselves frustrated because the meetings did not provide enough (or any) benefit for the time invested.
Here are a few tricks I’ve used to get the most out of meetings, avoid wasting time, and gain value for everyone involved.
1. Define the goal of the meeting
Every meeting during your sprint should come with a clearly defined agenda. It helps the team have clarity about the purpose, ensures everyone understands what we need to achieve, and lets us know when we’ve achieved our goals.
Beyond helping us understand what the meeting is intending to accomplish, this definition also allows the team to know who should or shouldn’t be in attendance, which makes sure people who won’t contribute value aren’t wasting their time and energy.
2. Consider your audience
Not every meeting should be run the same way. Knowing your goals and who’s attending should help dictate lots about how the meeting should take place.
Avoid peak times when people are otherwise busy in order to avoid creating unsustainability in the workplace. (If the only available time is over someone’s lunch hour, then you may have a problem.) Attempt to locate meetings most central to a majority of the team, or use tools to provide a virtual meeting room. Lastly, think about whether you need a formal-sit down meeting or if it can be replaced with a shorter stand-up meeting in another part of the office.
3. Embrace collaboration
The most productive meetings are when everyone is an active participant and gets an opportunity to have their voice heard and articulate their points. Steer attention back to a colleague if they were interrupted or ignored. It can be as simple as, “Excuse me, Sally, what were you going to say?”
And avoid coming to a conclusion before coming to a consensus. When every team member feels like they can contribute, they often find the meeting far more valuable, and getting accord from the team ensures any decision is well thought out.
Allow yourself and the team time to reflect on what’s working and what isn’t. This will help you improve the meeting and make it as efficient and valuable as you can for everyone attending.
After the meeting has occurred, reflect on your notes and ask yourself the following questions:
- Did I meet the goals of the meeting?
- Was a meeting the most efficient way to get the information or come to a decision?
- Did something actionable come out of the meeting?
If something is not working, try something new or ask others for advice. There’s no use in sticking to a bad plan.