This is another entry in a series of posts that covers different aspects relating to Scrum, being a Scrum Master, and everything Agile. These are the notes that I have taken during my journey and self-growth to understanding different perspectives and approaches in the Agile community.
This article will highlight tips on making sure your meetings are more effective. After an Agile transformation, in my case adopting SAFe certain ceremonies (DSU, Retro, Review, Backlog Refinement, etc...) were introduced to help keep the Agile team aligned and on-point. Here are some main focus areas that can be addressed to achieve those shorter and more effective meetings by addressing W.A.I.T (Why Am I Talking).
Scrum Master: Facilitating the Ceremonies
Make sure that each team is being provided an agenda for the particular meeting so that each team member understands the format and end-goal of the meeting. This can be done by the following:
- Defining the purpose
- Defining the outcome (This should be closely aligned with the purpose)
- Setting the time-box
- Focus on the facts and not the opinions (Opinions should be added to the Parking Lot to be addressed at another time outside the current meeting)
- Make sure to keep people on-topic
The above will allow for a mutually shared vision across the team, and will aid in showing the importance and benefit of why this meeting is being held.
So why are we holding this meeting?
The few meetings that from my experience that require a higher focus on purpose and outcome are the Iteration Planning and Backlog Refinements. To deep dive into Iteration Planning the purpose is to determine the team objectives and prioritizing the work over the next iteration. It is harder for the team to get behind the work, and feel comfortable with agreeing to getting the work done if they do not fully understand the benefit or value behind it.
An outcome is something of value
If we stick to finishing the Iteration Planning above, as the Scrum Master and the facilitator of the meeting it is key to that the team works towards the proposed outcome. For instance the outcomes of the meeting would be:
- Team understands the objectives and priorities that were discussed from the WHY
- Team understands what deliverable(s) and dependencies over the next iteration
- Risks and any priority changes are identified
"An outcome is a agreed upon action between the PO and the team"
Keeping to the time-box
The easiest meeting that is the culprit for not adhering to the time-box is the Daily Stand-Up (DSU). The hardest part of being the Scrum Master for me in the beginning was cutting someone off that went off-topic. I have seen often when team members forget the purpose of the DSU, which the main point and focus are keeping it short, discussing updates from yesterday, and stating what are the objectives for today.
Focus on Facts
Sticking with the DSU for now, as the Scrum Master you want to insist that team members come prepared in order to keep the topic at hand on-track. The Scrum Master should help avoid having opinions de-rail the meeting, and should insist that these items are added to the Parking Lot to be discussed at a later time.
"Keep to the topic to maintain engagement from the entire team."
The main way to ensure that your meeting is effective is by sticking to the agenda. Do not focus so much on the about the HOW so much, rather focus on the main objectives that are to be done (Implementation by design can be introduced later).
As a Scrum Master, a major portion of the role is to facilitate meetings, and making sure that they are effective and engaging with everyone on the team. If you do not let the team members know the purpose and benefit of the meeting then you loose their attention and they start feeling like this is a waste of time. The key thing to remember is that coordination between teams/roles is vital as a Scrum Master, and if the outcome(s) of your meeting are not addressed to others as needed then what is the purpose of having it.