Avoiding the meeting menace for your development team

Have you ever heard members of a development team complain about too many meetings? And when you look in their calendar all you find is a couple of meetings spread out through the week. As a Manager, Scrum Master, Product Owner etc. you might have thought “That’s nothing – I have meetings a day long!”. This is a natural reaction but the point you are missing is that the nature of your work is radically different compared to that of the development team. While a lot of your work is done in meetings and your days are fragmented the teams work doesn’t work that way. Paul Graham describes it very well in his post from 2009 about the Maker’s Schedule and the Manager’s Schedule (I really recommend reading the whole post). He describes that a developers day may be blown to pieces if meetings are scheduled in a way that prevents them from getting some flow in their work. To remedy this I recommend talking about this within your team and adding it to your Teams Working Agreement (because you have one of those, right?).

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Examples of how this could look in practice:

  • Do like Facebook and have a meeting free day per week. During that day the team can completely focus on the work at hand without interruptions.
  • Have something similar to visiting or opening hours for the team. During these hours it is ok to schedule meetings. When you choose these hours I recommend considering having your prime working hours (high energy) as your non-meeting time. On the Working Agreement this could be formulated something like:
    • “We are all in the office at least between 9 am and 4 pm. Meetings are scheduled after 2 pm.”
    • Or “We do meetings after 2 pm. All meetings have a clear agenda and purpose. We are on time.”

I really recommend trying this out. And who knows, maybe you as a non developer find value in getting some uninterrupted thinking time as well.

Ps. You should of course still talk to people if you need help getting unblocked or help someone else get unblocked. “People and interactions over processes and tools” is still what we strive for. This is merely a tool to help getting you meetings under control if that is a problem for your team. Ds.

Team (Squad) Health Check

Last year I was helping out at Spotify as an Agile Coach. One thing we developed/introduced when I was there was a new way of measuring how well the teams (or squads as they call them) are doing from a range of different perspectives. The coaches at Spotify have now blogged about this formats so I thought I would mention it here as well.

I can really recommend it as a tool to use in retrospectives. It lifts the discussions to cover important areas that might otherwise not be discussed. In my experience doing it on a quarterly basis works quite well.

The full blogpost can be found on Spotify Labs.

One thing they forgot to mention in the post that we initially had an “What card did we forget”-card. This was to discover important areas that we as coaches had forgotten. If someone were to adopt this tool to their context I would really recommend having that card.

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Video

How we ditched the backlog to do the right things

On Friday me and a coach colleague talked at the Agile Sweden conference about how we use Impact Mapping and inspiration from Lean Startup and Lean UX to produce better products and to create a more creative working environment.

The talk is in Swedish and can be found here: https://agilasverige.solidtango.com/video/2014-06-05-agila-sverige-loke-06-lisa-sallvin.