Tim Hordern

I ♥ building amazing products and teams. QA + Product + DevOps + Fast = Awesome.

Agile Meetings

Let me throw an idea at you:

One of the key practices of high-performing teams is that they have a lot of meetings.


Cue crazy riots, angry mobs, etc.

No, seriously. Great teams have lots of meetings. The difference is that they have great meetings, not painful ones.

A common agile smell to avoid are teams who blindly follow an Interation Planning Meeting (IPM), even though they’re not sure why they should do it. Mostly, they do it because Scrum told them to or they’ve seen other teams do it (there’s that cargo-culting again). The meeting takes hours, doesn’t achieve it’s aims (if it even had any to begin with), it’s unstructured, everybody hates it (you’ll see the looks of despair as they leave), and everybody hates it like the plague.

Then what happens?

  • People avoid going to the meeting.
  • it’s the first one to get rescheduled.
  • it drags on even longer as people arrive late or find any excuse to not leave.
  • eventually, it requires day-long sessions just to catch up (or week long sessions).

What do great teams do? They ask themselves why this is the case. And they improve it.

They hold more regular meetings with more focused outcomes. The meetings are shorter. Instead of trying to plan 5 weeks worth of work, they plan a week’s worth of work. Super mature teams may do this process for a single day’s work because they feel comfortable only planning a day’s worth of work.

They also have meetings up front of doing development work because they know it’s worse to have the meeting afterwards trying to understand what was built.

If you walk into a very mature agile environment, you often see huddles of people chatting, or pairs of people busy pair programming. It’s hard to grasp at first, but these people are meeting. Constantly meeting.

Meetings don’t require formal start times or meeting rooms to be meetings. Meeting are about close collaboration to solve a problem.

Don’t avoid meetings. Just avoid having the wrong ones.