July 27, 2021

Don't Use Scrum! (Too Many Darned Meetings) Try This Instead...

 

Don't Use Scrum! (Too many darned meetings) Try this instead...

When we introduce Scrum to some companies, sometimes the question arises - "Why are there so many meetings in Scrum? When do you do 'real work'?"

I've been answering this question verbally for so many years, I thought it was time to write a blog.

So here's my answer - don't use Scrum! It has too many darned meetings. Try this instead for the next 3 months. It won't cost you a dime in training, coaching, consulting, tools, whatchamacallit...

  1. At the start of each work week...
    • Take a print out of your calendar for the current week
    • Make a list of all the meetings
    • Total up all the durations of the meeting
  2. At the end of each work week...
    • Take a print out of your calendar for the week that just got over
    • Make a list of all the meetings
    • Total up all the durations of the meeting
    • Were there other meetings that did not show up on the calendar? Great! Add them to the list and the total durations.
  3. Compare the print-outs of the meeting calendar at the start of the week and the end of the week. What can you learn? For instance, how did this list of meetings that actually happened by the end of the week compare to the meetings you expected at the start of the work week?
  4. At the end of each work week, fill out this self-assessment
    • Total # of minutes spent in planned meetings
    • Total # of minutes spent in un-planned meetings
    • On a scaled of 0 to 10, how effective was your team in making progress towards your team goal? What the heck was the team goal, anyway?
    • On a scaled of 0 to 10, how effective was your team in maximizing sustainable, measurable value?
    • On a scaled of 0 to 10, how effective was your team in minimizing time spent on meetings?
    • On a scaled of 0 to 10, how effective was your team in maximizing time spent on doing 'real work'?
    • Plot the survey results as trend lines
  5. At the end of 3 months...
    • Look back at all the print-outs of before and after weekly calendars, look at all the meetings you had, and draw out your team process on one single page
    • Name all the meetings, the intent of the meetings, participants, durations
    • Try to explain this to an unsuspecting guinea pig. Don't forget to show them the self-assessment. trend lines.
    • Now ask them to explain it back to you.
    • Now, tell them to look at the Scrum Guide and have them explain Scrum to you.
    • How did they react? What questions did they ask? What made sense? What didn't? What did you learn from the interaction?
  6. Now, compare / contrast your process to Scrum and answer these questions...
    • Which of these has more meetings?
    • Which of these has more real work?
    • Which of these might be most effective in making progress towards your team goal?
    • Which of these might be most effective in maximizing sustainable, measurable value?

My life coach - Joy Perkins often reminded me that the quality of life is determined by the quality of questions we ask. Learn to ask the right question.

What is the reason for your team's existence?

  • Minimize meetings? Scrum might not be for you.
  • Maximize real work? Scrum might not be for you.
  • Make regular progress towards your team goal? Scrum might be for you.
  • Maximize sustainable, measurable value? Scrum might be for you.

My wish for you is not that you read this blog and get convinced Scrum is right for you. Just that you shift from asking questions that are irrelevant to your team's existence to questions that are more meaningful to your team's existence.

Good luck!