Stop Having Scrum Meetings?

Is there any doubt out there in the business world that meetings are often terrible and useless? Some would go as far as to say that we need to stop the madness and get rid of meetings, all meetings, period.

Tobias Mayer, a friend of Agile Scout, recently posted about the fact that we need to have conversations, not necessarily meetings:

“Meeting culture has penetrated Scrum, as it must. Something so heavy and oppressive, so entrenched in our way of being will crush anything that tries to challenge its power…Let’s stop talking about meetings, and let’s stop having meetings. Nothing good ever came out of a business meeting. People in collaborative dialog though, now that’s exciting — that’s meaningful.”

It may just be time for you and your organization to look into the “value” of the meetings you are having. Whether it is the daily standup, management meetings, Scrum of Scrums, or any other meetings, it may be time to ax some of them.

Derek Huether wrote about this as well recently, in his post about saying goodbye to expensive meetings:

“I am happy to report that the meeting in question has been cancelled indefinitely.  In one year alone, the cost savings is $214,848…Though the cancellation was months in the making, I commend those who finally made the difficult (but necessary) choice.  It’s easy to complain about things but accept the status quo.  It’s hard to ask why and then act on it appropriately.”

I believe that [some] meetings are very important to have. It’s just the nature of the beast. Regardless, I would take serious look at the real value of meetings. Maybe having a 15-minute time-boxed conversation is more valuable…

So what about Scrum meetings? Valuable or not?

[HT: Agile Anarchy]

13 Replies to “Stop Having Scrum Meetings?”

  1. Scrum meetings just like any other meeting should only be held when needed. Meetings should start on time, there is a lot of wasted time that occurs waiting for people to join as well as having to repeat due to the late comers.

  2. The key in those “necessary” meetings is ensuring they are efficient. This is easier to accomplish by agreeing to the Agenda, Purpose and Goals of your typical meetings such as Planning, Retro, Demo and Stand-up. It is more of a challenge with adhoc meetings. To guide us towards more effective meetings, apply the same principles to those adhoc meetings. Set the Agenda and make it visible in the room along with the goals of the meeting. Build practices around helping each other stay on course. Other, unrelated topics, go on a “Parking Lot” and are discussed later.

  3. Well, this is something I’ve been wanting to blog about but I’ll have an early bite.

    One of my major gripes about Scrum meetings is the “all hands on deck” nature of it.

    Scrum meetings take up 20% of the schedule for everyone (equivalent to one full day per week).

    I really do not think the entire team needs to be involved in planning, demos, etc, not even the daily scrums.

    If we’re going to “eliminate waste” we need to look at the high overhead of scrum and not blindly accept it as a necessary part of the process.

    Frankly, not all projects are equal and not all projects require such a high degree of involvement by all parties.

    Even in a “TPS” shop like Toyota, I really doubt you’d find people working on the ceramics of the spark plugs showing up for customer demos and customer interaction more than once every other blue moon.


    1. According to the Scrum guide, Scrum meetings should take about 13% of the total team time, not 20%. While I fully agree that meetings for the sake of meetings are a waste of time, I’m convinced of the value of regular planned meetings during a project. For example, have you ever witnessed team members realize, only during a Scrum meeting, that they were both working on the same thing? Or that they were having the same issue? You can find other ways to prevent these situations, but daily meetings are pretty cheap ways to avoid days or duplicate efforts. Daily scrums take 3% of the work day (15mn for 8h)… Call them planned discussions if you like, but have some!

  4. Meeting is too formal. For scrum, sometimes you can do a meeting, and tomorrow just a conversation (standup is not always necessary), etc. Sometimes with a cup of coffee, sometimes sit on the grass, be imaginative!

  5. I would also point out that often parts of sprint planning or estimation meetings are a waste of time, you often spend way too much time talking about an item, dont really get a much more precise estimate and could have spent that time actually doing the work!

    Think 10 developers in a room for 2 hours, 30 mins of that is needed so thats 1.5 x 10 = 15 hours x that by once a month (conservative for longer sprints) 180 hours (36 man days) of wasted time, and you know what, its likely that the estimates were still not much more accurate anyway!

    Im just a big fan of lets give a rough estimate without spending too much time and get on with the work!

  6. Each meeting in Scrum has its distinct purpose. And one important fact is that the whole team participates. This is important for the team to have a common understanding of what to build and how to build it. In order for that to work, a team cannot grow over 9 to 10 people because meetings tend to get ineffective.
    Often, teams don’t understand the team effect of these meetings like for example a demo with the whole team participating. Then they cancel or change the meeting and then are surprised why team members don’t know anymore how the system works.
    That’s where an experienced Scrum Master is needed to explain the effects of such actions.

    And as a final note: always ask yourself: if you think you know better how to structure work than defined by Scrum, then why don’t you write a book about it, start consulting and get rich? 😉

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