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Misusing Scrum Ceremonies (Agile Transformation Pain Point #15)

Rachael Wilterdink Rachael Wilterdink  |  
Dec 20, 2018
Avoid having runaway meetings, meetings that go past their time boxes, and meetings that are not for their original purpose. Keep it focused.

Create and follow an agenda for the more formal Scrum events –depending on your company and culture. I’ve worked at loose organizations and formal organizations. At both, the Scrum events worked because they followed the lead of the company and their culture.

Keep out saboteurs

Make sure you don't invite the wrong people. If there are problem people that shouldn't be involved, don’t invite them. Maybe there's politics going on, or maybe somebody's nosy and wants to see what's happening. You do want your stakeholders there, but you want to make sure they're the right people. Otherwise, you can get some saboteurs who try to create blockers for your team and set up your team for failure. You don't want those people in there if you can avoid it.

Stick to your time boxes

Don't use meetings for purposes other than the original intention. Be prepared and make sure you're ready when you go into your review meeting. Make sure you know who's going to be showing what and what they're going to be showing.
time boxes

I always have an extra meeting that I hold on my teams, which is the day before or right before the actual Sprint review meeting. I'll gather the team to get the logistics out of the way. We go through what we got done, who's going to show what and in what order. Showing the work with a dispersed remote team is more challenging, especially on something like a mobile application where you can only sort of simulate it. Ideally, you want to be there in person if it's possible and show them the real deal.

Preparedness is key

Be prepared, especially for planning. You don't want to go into a Sprint review and say, "Oh, sorry, I only have a couple of stories that are ready.“ You could start sprinting and have the person continue to work on fleshing out and getting approval of the stories that are still to come. Ideally, however, you'd have done that and are ready for the team to pull from the backlog when they're doing their planning.
preparedness is key

No pointing fingers

Also, don't use retrospectives as a blame game. That should be a safe place where everyone can be honest with each other and not take it personally. It's about getting better together. Things don't always go smoothly, so take those as learning opportunities.

Follow through on action items

Finally, follow through by acting on action items from your retrospective. Typically, you want to pick at least one thing from your retrospective that you can improve upon that was part of the empirical process of inspecting and adapting. Either add it to a board that says “action items”, or add it to your actual Sprint backlog with tasks and follow through on it.

Going back to the waterfall world, many teams will hold a lessons-learned meeting at the end of a project, but then the team disbands and no one takes any action on the items learned. They're pretty much doomed to repeat the same mistakes they made before. I think agile makes this more visible and more actionable because you're doing this throughout the process, not just at the end.

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This is the fifteenth of 20 blogs on 20 Agile Transformation Pain Points (and how to avoid or manage them). To read them all right now, download our free eBook.
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