SCRUM Meetings: What Are They and Why Do They Matter?

All meetings should matter, but SCRUM meetings are taking the startup world and corporate world by storm. SCRUM meetings are a 15 minute standup meeting that take place every day and that have their own terminology and methodology. Before you start rolling your eyes about any kind of meeting, let�s talk about what makes these meetings in particular so effective. In the first place, these types of gatherings typically occur with participants standing up. The standing position is intended to prevent the meetings from going on too long, but it�s the SCRUM framework as explained by the SCRUM Institute is what makes those 15 minutes standing in a hallway so effective.

Three Key Questions

Three questions are put to every team member during the daily meeting, and they can apply to off-hours life as well as to on the clock life.

  1. What did you accomplish yesterday?
  2. What you plan to accomplish today?
  3. What is standing in your way?

Learning to SCRUM means learning to answer these questions quickly and concisely. Meetings can and should be about efficient and goal oriented communication, working out the whats and hows of bringing your product to the people. It doesn�t matter what department you�re in, or where you�re located, a team member is a team member. Even if you are using BlueJeans to hold video conferences for IT, your goal is to take this 15 minutes and communicate across the hall, or across time zones. In the first place, according to Entrepreneur magazine, 58 percent of videoconferencing software users use apps to have internal meetings with other employees, and 50 percent use them to meet with supervisors. Furthermore, in a crossgenerational phenomenon, Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers all pay significantly more attention to calls with video than without.

If you have remote workers, you can bring them in to this type of meeting and engage them as you would your on-site workers, even if they�re not in the hallway. Meetings can be a valued way for team members to make themselves heard, however those who work off-site or are off-site for a variety of reasons can often feel left out and ignored. Preventing these types of resentments from sabotaging the goals should be a key point in any SCRUM Master�s playbook. If anyone remembers playing the tabletop version of Dungeons & Dragons, the Dungeon Masters who put out the extra effort to welcome new players, make failure fun, and built rich worlds for gamers to play in were the ones who invariably had a crowded table on Saturday nights. It may be a throwback, but in an industry populated with geeks, it may be a common reference.

Vanquish the Jargon

It�s easy to fall into the jargon trap. Having a jargon set you apart from the crowd, and makes you feel part of a special group. With all the attention that SCRUM meetings are getting, it�s easy to lose sight of the reason they came to exist in the first place. Meetings were too frequent, too long, too ineffective, and who filled with people who wanted to be set apart from the crowd. A workplace is a crowd of people who have been organized, and these are the people that you have to deal with every day. You are all on a quest, and are seeking the best way to accomplish your goals as a group. So get rid of all the jargon, and bring your best dice to the table. What you need the most is to accomplish sitting down, what you were saying when you were standing up. It�s not who is more SCRUM than anyone else, it�s the person who leaves the meeting, sits down at their desk, and accomplishes what they set out to do today who has successfully done their scrum

It�s a Tool – Not the Whole Tool Box

Remember, SCRUM is just another tool to be used. If you use it properly you will reap the results, but used improperly � such as for a 15 minute finger-pointing sessions � you will not see the results that other people have gathered. Keeping in mind that all changes take time, take the time to learn as a company culture how to use SCRUM to achieve workable team and corporate goals. You may want to invest in a SCRUM trainer who will help you to use those 15 minutes in the most effective way possible. The key to making changes into habits is making sure that the changes are not onerous or unpleasant. The key to making habits into routines is making sure that those habits are beneficial ones and sustainable over a period of time. Working with SCRUM is not a panacea, but can be an alterative agent when your company desperately needs one.