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How the PM and Scrum Master can Limit Unnecessary Meetings

Meetings are sometimes held to gain validation or clarification from management or leadership. However, in a self-organizing environment with a high-trust cross-functional team, members can use their discretion to make decisions based on detailed acceptance criteria to drive output, eliminating the need for the team to get permission from leadership for every task.

The Product Owner should ensure the acceptance criteria for tasks in production are specific and definitive to avoid confusion. This will help limit additional meetings based solely on understanding the backlog requirements. In an Agile environment, leaders have a duty to effectively communicate the business value and the intended effect of the output while optimizing the use of their team's time.

The Scrum Master should be keeping an eye on the necessity for meetings to take place, acting as a deterrent to unscheduled and unnecessary meetings. As the Keeper of Scrum, the Scrum Master may find it beneficial to uphold all four of the Scrum events:

  • Sprint Planning

  • Daily Scrum

  • Sprint Review

  • Sprint Retrospective

Each of these events has a purpose and can provide consistency in team meetings. I've seen many teams disregard one or more of these events for the sake of time and wind up spending more time on unnecessary meetings that could have been avoided with the correct implementation of these events.

For meetings that exist outside of the four Scrum events, a checklist can be used to validate the need for a scheduled meeting. The checklist should have criteria that must be met for the meeting to be considered necessary. Evaluating the situation and potentially addressing the problem through other means such as email, Slack, or a one-on-one conversation can reduce the number of unproductive meetings.



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