Agile Software Development

Do Scrum Teams Meet Too Much?

From a distance, it sounds like scrum has a lot of meetings. Heck, you have at least one meeting every single day. But when you look closer, you start to realize that scrum is actually a pretty sweet deal for the meeting-averse. Mike Cohn explains why that is in a post at Mountain Goat Software.

Pursuing a Meet-less Meal

As an experiment for agile teams, Cohn asks you to pick a random number from five to 10, and then he wants you to think back to the first month it was that your team really started to jive with agile. When you have done that, locate that old month in your work calendar, and then go back in time for a number of months equal to the random number you chose. If you compare how many meetings you had on your schedule back then to now, the total number is probably about the same—or smaller. After all, your old schedule may have looked like this:

You probably had occasional meetings with stakeholders. You had the weekly update with your boss. You might have been on a couple of task forces. Then there were design reviews—whether design, technical, database, or other. You might have had a weekly status meeting. Perhaps there were code inspections or reviews. There were one-off design discussions at the whiteboard. Add a couple of conference calls. And realize you probably had some meetings that were scheduled but never made it onto your calendar so you don’t see them now.

Cohn concedes that only about half of the people he has done this experiment with actually have fewer meetings with scrum than they did before it. But regardless, there is a difference in the quality of scrum meetings, because they have specific, understood purposes. There is predictability, reliability, and generally less chaos. The only real fuss comes in establishing the appropriate (i.e., short and sweet) lengths for the meetings. But accordion-like meeting lengths is something that will probably plague humanity until heat death anyway.

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