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All About How To Hold Conventional And Non-conventional Scrum Meetings

By Expert Author: Mrugesh Panchal

In many ways, scrum is all about meetings. Once the product backlog is created by the product owner, the meetings starts, and keeps on occurring until the entire project is completed. While some of the meetings such as the sprint planning, sprint review, and the sprint retrospective are “planned” meetings, and the scrum guide lays down clear guidelines as to how they should be conducted and what should be availed from them, it may be required to hold special meetings as and when needed to streamline the scrum process. The scrum guide does not mention anything about non-standardized meetings, or those which have been called impromptu. It is important to plan and organize such meetings to make them effective in scrum.

1. Meet only if required
First and foremost, if the information can be conveyed through a memo, emails, or a small presentation, don’t conduct the meeting. One of the key management strategies is to identify the nature and requirement of conveying the information to team members. If the nature of information is “simplex” i.e. information needs to be conveyed only “one way”, a lot of time can be saved by just sending a memo. Typically, the scrum master or the product owner may need to brief up the team members regarding the feedback availed from the stakeholders, or just let the team know about the time a particular meeting is scheduled. In such instances, it is not required to hold a special meeting to convey “one way” information since a feedback or further discussion is not expected or required with respect to the message conveyed.

2. Set up clear objectives for the meeting
If a meeting is supposed to be held, it should have an objective! It is meaningless to conduct meetings where objectives are not clearly explained and the team does not have any idea why the meeting is called for, or what is planned to be done in the meeting. A proper agenda should be created beforehand and conveyed to the team well in advance so the team knows why the meeting has been called, and what is going to be discussed in it.

3. Instruct the members to prepare for the meeting
If you find it necessary to hold the meeting, and have prepared an agenda to explain what you plan to discuss in the meeting, it is recommended you instruct or inform the team members how they ought to prepare for the meeting. Ideally, a list should be prepared explaining what is expected from the team member, and what activities the particular member should carry out before attending the meeting. If you have team members belonging to specific groups depending upon their area of work and specialization, you could prepare a common list of instructions stating what and how each member in the group should do to ensure their participation in the meeting is a positive one.

4. Prepare a plan of action
Now that you have done everything to make your meeting a successful one, it is important you achieve the objective of holding your meeting in the first place. It is important to inform the team members what they are expected to do once the meeting is completed. More than often, people attend meetings and simply forget about what was discussed and whether the objective of holding the meeting was satisfied once the meeting is over. The reason why this happens is there is no “Call-to-action” linked with the particular meeting. Each member should know that he or she is supposed to do to complement the meeting, and ensure its objectives are properly fulfilled.

5. Learning from the meeting
Scrum is all about self-correction and self-learning. Each activity you do or carry out in scrum has a feedback activity associated with it. At the end of each meeting, a few minutes should be ideally spent to discuss what has been learnt through the meeting, and what should be done in the future to improve the scrum process. The team members should learn something new, or take back a certain benefit from the meeting. The meeting should result into something positive in the end.

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