Running Agile

A Practitioner's View To Lean & Agile

Jean doesn’t like Mondays

Posted by Christophe on October 7, 2007

Agile2007 is already past by 2 months. Time to make use of those notes!

This first post on A07 is about dysfunctional meetings.
Jean Tabaka reminded us that they are lots of ceremonies in scrum: iteration planning meeting, daily scrum, demo, retrospective, and then more as needed. All of have a purpose, and, well run, will be the backbone of success for the team.
Though, meetings are often not effective. Here’s Jean top 10 common meeting dysfunctions:

  1. Meetings are repetitive, they are all the same
  2. The same people do all the talking
  3. Subjects are beaten to death, again and again
  4. We come to decisions just to get out of the meeting
  5. I don’t have time to code because I am in too many meetings
  6. We have too many people in our meetings
  7. We have too few people in our meetings
  8. With the constant stream of meetings, we are treated like machinery
    not people
  9. Our demos and reviews never really bring about any thing new
  10. All the decisions were made outside the meeting anyway; we just
    have the meeting to be told what we are doing and to agree

If you suffer from several meeting dysfunctions, then meetings are not serving the team, then the team is dysfunctional (see the five dysfunctions of a team).

So Jean reminds us of the important roles of the ScrumMaster as a facilitator:

  • Guides team through the groan zone of a meeting Groan Zone
  • Asks questions, doesn’t teach
  • Leads by serving, serves by leading
  • Separates expertise and facilitation work
  • Believes in the wisdom of the team and the “art of the possible”

In my mind, dysfunctional meetings are often a sign of an untrained ScrumMaster in facilitation techniques. Jean gives us organizing tools for effective meetings:

  • Purpose and Agenda
  • Personal Objectives
  • Ground Rules – What agreements help our team meet its goals?
  • Parking lot – What topics should be held if they don’t help us meet the Purpose of the workshop?
  • Action Plan—who will follow-up and when
  • Decision Board—what decisions need to be maintained
  • Communication Plan, Resources
  • Definition of Consensus – how do we make decisions
  • Red cards – give red cards to all participants. Red cards can be raised by anyone when they feel the discussion is going off track
  • Individual time box – example 3 minutes per person
  • Stand-up – it takes 30% less time to come to the same decision standing rather than sitting
  • Prioritized backlogs – get Product Owners manage their backlog conflicts outside the iteration planning

Other resources:

And, oh, BTW, avoid iteration demos / planning meetings on Mondays. Jean doesn’t like Mondays. There is a big chance your team either.

Update: The video is now available on InfoQ.

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2 Responses to “Jean doesn’t like Mondays”

  1. [...] Update – Jean doesn’t like Mondays The video of Jean’s presentation at Agile 07 is now listed at the bottom of the original article. [...]

  2. [...] changes we can help with the above.  BTW – you are not alone in wanting more out of meetings. Here is an article written by Jean Tabaka on the [...]

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