11 Hints to Improve Your Scrum Meetings

I saw a lot of Scrum meetings out there, that are not more than a skeleton. Everybody is attending but nobody is participating. To improve such situations I collected 11 hints to improve your Scrum Meetings.

Daily Scrum

1 – Walk the Board

Instead of answering the “three questions”, which leads in most teams to answering only the first two questions, walk the board. This means, use your Sprint Backlog to talk about what is currently in progress and what is planned for today. That way you’re concentrating on the really important things, instead of talking about the past.

This blog post has been moved to marcloeffler.eu



7 thoughts on “11 Hints to Improve Your Scrum Meetings”

  1. Marc,

    Great post, not only for the content but also for its practical usability.

    I’m partially disagreeing on point 6: while I’m perfectly fine in bringing in food for long meetings, I’m objecting to the fact the sprint planning has to be a long one. My current strategy is to anticipate as much as possible the sprint planning work by 1. reviewing the backlog and 2. having a strategic discussion on the content of the next sprint before reaching the sprint planning.

    In fact, I believe a long sprint planning is a smell for something that went wrong before the meeting.

    One of the major dysfunctions I’ve noticing in long sprint planning meetings is a sloppily defined, understood, estimated and prioritised backlog:
    – Badly defined => The team discuss on the actual text of the stories, how to split them, the dependencies, …
    – Badly understood => The team argues on what they should actually develop in each story
    – Badly estimated => The team should give some kind of commitment, but if they don’t believe in the estimates there will be a lot of time wasted on re-estimating. This is also a symptom of a badly understood story
    – Badly prioritised => There is no clearly communicated vision from the Product Owner, so the team start strategising at sprint planning
    – This all gets worse if the team happen to be dependent from an external expert who is not available during the planning: they are asked for a commitment, but in fact they don’t have the relevant information.

    Scrum defines the team has to do a backlog maintenance during the sprint (a.k.a. Backlog Grooming), and if this is done properly, the sprint planning meeting becomes a very short one – in fact my teams are often below 1/2 hour for a sprint planning phase 1 -, where the team confirms the decisions taken already during the sprint and update them with any variations that might have happened in the last few days.

    The sprint planning phase 2, i.e. writing the tasks, is usually a much easier one and, in fact, I don’t mind if the developers do that during the rest of the day and come up with the task definitions some time after, hence keeping the sprint planning even shorter.


    1. Hi Pierluigi

      I really love the idea of shortening the Sprint Planning. I think I’ll try it out with my next team. Regarding your list of dysfunctions: I think they are worth a blog post. I’m already looking forward to read it on your blog :)

      – marc

  2. Your ‘Walk the board’ idea supports the Lean idea of watching the work not the worker.

    In my experience the three questions are good initially for team members to start interacting with one another. When they get used to interacting it is good to switch over to walking the board; I have seen better flow of work and increased identification of impediments by doing this.

    1. Yes, this idea has it roots in lean. It’s quite a mind shift for many people, to watch the work and not the worker.

  3. Hi Marc,
    Thanks for this nice article. We figured out that standup meetings are great but needed improvement (they took a lot of time, de-focussed our colleagues and interrupted their workflows). Because of this we developed a SaaS tool to “automate” the daily standup meetings – with just a single email. If you like to take a look: http://www.30secondsmail.com.

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