Wasteful Scrum Meetings
Sometimes the Scrum meetings (planning, review, retrospective, daily scrum) are considered to be wasteful overhead.
Sorry, but that is bullshit. If the Scrum meetings feel like wasteful overhead, it is almost always your own failure.
Focus is one of the Scrum values. If your Scrum meetings feel wasteful, they need better focus. Stop doing the things that don’t provide value.
Let’s look at the meetings one by one.
During the estimation meeting two things should happen:
- The product backlog items are estimated by the team.
- More important: Knowledge is shared between Product Owner and Team and the Team participates in definition, splitting and refining product backlog items.
If the Product Owner doesn’t have to forecast a release date or development effort, he could simply skip point 1. An alternative could be to use a very rough estimate and simply use an estimation of 1 story point for every backlog item.
If the product backlog items are simple and clear point 2 may not be neccessary. In that case you could simply skip it.
If both points aren’t neccessary you can skip the whole meeting. There is a reason that the estimation meeting is not an official part of Scrum.
The goal of the sprint planning is of course to plan the Sprint. It is dependent on the team how it is done best and how much effort the team has to invest. I have seen teams doing a Sprint Planning in a few minutes.
Doing a task breakdown is a proven practice during the Sprint Planning but it is not a must. If the team can generate value with only considering the stories, the team doesn’t need to do a task breakdown during the Sprint Planning. The team could do an ad-hoc task breakdown when it begins working on the story. If the stories are really tiny the team may need no task breakdown at all.
If the Product Owner is colocated with the development team he should have seen the implemented stories before the Sprint Review. Therefore there may be no need to present the stories again to the Product Owner during the Sprint Review. But there is much more to the Sprint Review. The Product Owner should invite the stakeholders to the Sprint Review meeting so that they can get a first-hand impression about status and progress of the development.
The Sprint Retrospective is the focus point where the teams tries to improve. If the retrospectives feel like waste, the facilitator is probably not doing his job effectivly.
The 15 minutes of the Daily Scrum should help the development team to focus on the next step within the Sprint. The team finds out where it stands and defines the plan for the day. A team may or may not use the full 15 minutes. But if there is a team the members simply have to coordinate. Within very small teams (e.g. 2 persons) there may be no need for a Daily Scrum. But even in these cases I have seen Daily Scrums to be very useful.
Similar to the retrospectives: If the Daily Scrum feels like waste, probably the ScrumMaster isn’t facilitating effectivly.
There are two assumptions underlying this blog post:
- You want to work with a team and not just a group of people.
- You want to work with timeboxed Sprints.
If one of these assumptions doesn’t hold true, one may come to other conclusions.