Stay on Track with Scrum Meetings

Is your team getting nowhere on a project? Are members disorganized or not getting the ball rolling? A daily scrum may be just what everyone needs to get on track.

What Is a Scrum?
A scrum is a rugby play in which team members come together in a compact formation to move the ball down the field.

So what does rugby have to do with meetings? Well, the same principles of teamwork on which a scrum is based can be applied to help get results in your project meetings. According to Ken Schwaber, co-creator of the scrum meeting method (along with Jeff Sutherland), the purpose of a daily scrum is to keep teams focused "on their objectives and to help them avoid being thrown off track by less important concerns."

The scrum meeting method consists of short, daily meetings designed to keep teams on track and help members get their work done. Scrums are focused on the people doing the work, not management. Managers can attend scrum meetings to see and hear first-hand how things are progressing; however, they're not allowed to speak. Any advice or questions they have must be addressed after the meeting. Daily scrums create openness, honesty and teamwork, says Schwaber.

While scrums were originally designed for product development teams, Schwaber says this meeting method can work for any team or group. Members of a marketing group, for example, may be working on a variety of projects but they're all working toward the same goal – marketing the company and its products or services.

They allow groups to keep projects on track, catch problems early and increase productivity. Because team members must tell their peers what they've accomplished since the last meeting and what they plan to do that day, all members are held accountable for their share of the work.

Before You Scrum
Before holding your first scrum, your team – with the help of management – must decide what projects should be completed in the next 15 to 30 days – a time period known as the sprint. At the end of the sprint, your team is expected to have completed all assigned work.

Also, it's important to remind managers that their job is not to tell the team members how to do their work, explains Schwaber, but instead to be their coach and help them succeed.

Rules for Scrum Meetings
* Choose a scrum leader to enforce the rules during the sprint
* Hold scrums every day in the same location and at the same time - preferably first thing in the morning
* Each scrum should last only 15 to 30 minutes
* Ask all participants the same three questions: What did you do since the last scrum? What are you going to do between now and the next scrum? Is anything in the way of you doing your work?
* Address issues other than the three questions outside the scrum – this includes suggestions for a team member who's hit a roadblock
* Managers are not allowed to speak
* If a manager or colleague assigns unplanned work to a team member that will throw the team's schedule off track, the scrum leader has the power to excuse the person of the additional work. The work must either be fit into the next sprint or be assigned to someone who's not on the team.
* Your team must have a concrete deliverable for management after the sprint
* Start the process again after each sprint

So why not give scrum meetings a try? Thanks to these short, focused meetings, everyone – including managers – knows where everyone else stands. They bring your team together and help get the work done more efficiently.

For more information about scrum meetings, visit www.controlchaos.com.

1. Henry Ford


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