An Agile Ceremonies Recipe for Confusion
Not long ago I was having a conversation with another LeadingAgile coach regarding observations of a delivery team. This team had decided to combine their daily stand up meeting, backlog grooming, and sprint demo in one large, and apparently, confusing event. It was very difficult to tell what at all was being accomplished in this meeting. I made the comment that milk, martinis, and mojitos are wonderful drinks but mix them all up? Not so much. I expect that combination might just signal a gag reflex. Similar to the gag reflex this coach had as he participated in this combined daily stand up, backlog grooming, sprint demo meeting…
All agile ceremonies should have very clear objectives and outcomes. When we work with new agile teams we make sure they understand the ceremonies of scrum and other agile meetings necessary to deliver value. Each meeting has clear objectives, a clear list of required and optional participants, and clear decision rights. This approach ensures we are not going off topic and accomplishing the goals of the meeting. When you look at scrum you see very clear guidance for the daily standup, you see very clear guidance on the sprint demo, and we provide very clear guidance when meeting to ready the product backlog.
The daily stand up tends to be a hard meeting to establish so that it only focuses on the 3 typical questions of what did I work on since the last meeting, what do I intend to accomplish today, and do I have any impediments. It is fascinating how difficult it is to limit this meeting to only 15 minutes. Just think about this meeting being mixed in with the others I mentioned. Pretty distasteful ;-)
The rationale behind this organization’s desire to combine all of these ceremonies into one meeting was to save time. Let me say that again, their belief is that combining all of these into one meeting will save time. I can assure you that this didn’t happen and the objectives that were to be met by each of those ceremonies were diluted and mostly not met.
Restating what was said earlier, make sure each ceremony is set up to meet the objectives of the meeting. Even if you do combine meetings, make sure there is a very clear start and end to each one, make sure the objectives of the meeting have been met before moving on to the next. Just because you can mix milk, martinis, and mojitos together doesn’t mean you should.