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I work with a relatively small (6 people) Software Configuration Management team in what would be considered a more traditional or "non-agile" environment; however, within the past year our CM lead has instituted the practice of holding a daily "stand up" meeting for just our CM group in which we cover:

  1. What we accomplished yesterday
  2. What we plan to accomplish today
  3. What our current impediments are

I understand this is relatively standard practice within an agile work environment and can see the benefit of it there; however, we do not follow any other agile processes and the meetings tend to be very back and forth and also tend to drag on. Several members of our team go too far into detail which does not concern the entire team and would be better served in an offline conversation when answering the first two questions specifically.

Additionally our leads, who essentially serve as the scrum masters and run the meeting tend to ask a lot of follow up questions, which further derails the conversation from being beneficial to all which are involved.

These meetings are mandatory and in my opinion a waste of time (45-60 mins a week including driving back and forth five days a week)

As a participant, how can I help to make our meetings more focused/relevant/beneficial/shorter to our team?

Update: The meetings have become sit down meetings where none of the three questions above are even covered.

  • 2
    Why are you driving in for a standup? Why not just call in for it – IDrinkandIKnowThings May 10 '17 at 19:14
  • Several employees work offsite due to seating arrangements, the meetings were held by call/email but it was determine by individuals above me that face-to-face was necessary so we will meet offsite. – John May 10 '17 at 19:25
  • "As a participant" Nothing, unless you're okay with answers on how to raise the issue of wasted time and wanting more efficient meetings with the team leads? – Lilienthal May 10 '17 at 19:40
  • @Lilienthal I suppose that would be a different question. – John May 10 '17 at 19:42
  • Well Joe's answer below basically covers that because realistically there's just nothing you can do to really tackle the problem. You might be able to improve it slightly but I'd say that's a great way to be quickly labelled as the Obnoxious One in meetings and to end up in conversations with the actual team leads about your (non-managerial) role within the team. – Lilienthal May 10 '17 at 19:48
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The main goal of the standup is planning, not status. This is useful even if the team aren't agile to focus the team on what they need to do today.

There are points to remember:

  • It is not a status meeting - the updates should be confined to what needs to be raised, not as your justification of your productivity. It can be valid to say you have little or no update if you have no effect on others and no blockers
  • You identify blockers - you identify things you need help with clearing, but this isn't a solutioning meeting. You may want to have a meet straight after to discuss, but likely you don't need all involved, this keeps time to plan (15 mins)
  • Not everyone needs to talk - don't let everyone pitch in, use a soft toy of something to indicate who's turn it is and only they speak. If someone needs further discussion take it out of the standup (as above).
  • It's a planning meeting - by the end of the standup, the team should all know what they are doing today, and if there is anything they need to buddy up on, or help deal with. Make sure everyone understands this and asks if they don't.
  • +1 for planning. I work in a presales team and I tried to introduce daily standups. The aim is not to update status, but to sync between dependencies, make decisions and produce action items. – angarg12 May 10 '17 at 19:09
  • How do you suppose any of this helps a participant in a meeting though? – Lilienthal May 10 '17 at 19:50
  • Well @JoeStrazzere the OP did mention the 3 questions and mentioned Scrum Masters, so I would think suggesting the efficient way of having a standup is relevant. The OP is also complaining about the death march of the existing meeting so I'm giving suggestions they can make to improve things. Obviously they need agreement from the owner of the meeting. – The Wandering Dev Manager May 10 '17 at 22:10
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    @JoeStrazzere the meeting generally falls in the middle of what you describe, a planning and status meeting which leans more towards status. The overall intent of the meeting is unclear I think there is some top down direction to become more agile without truly understanding what exactly that would mean or why it would be beneficial to the organization – John May 11 '17 at 13:58
  • @JoeStrazzere Very good point sir, the best course of action would be to seek clarification with one of our leads; hopefully they both on the same page – John May 11 '17 at 15:30
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As a participant, how can I help to make our meetings more focused/relevant/beneficial/shorter to our team?

Talk to the meeting leader and express your concerns. Indicate the kind of time it takes from your day and talk about alternatives.

Be open to the fact that the leader might not wish to have swift 3-bullet Agile-style statements from everyone as the sole activity for these meetings.

Since you mentioned the drive back and forth, I'm guessing that you aren't on site otherwise. It's quite possible that these meetings are meant to more fully discuss work in a way that wouldn't be possible or effective remotely.

You can help make the meetings better. But "better" might not necessarily mean focused/relevant/beneficial/shorter in the way you wish. The only way you'll know is by talking with the people who can affect change - in this case the meeting leader.

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You're not an agile team, your leaders don't understand scrum, they have a different agenda for the meetings, I don't know what else you can expect.

First you have to discover if they even want shorter meetings. If you can point out that moving certain activities to a separate meeting, will benefit those not involved, you may get them to table some discussions for another time.

Second, the only other approach is to get them to realize the impact of meetings that take so long, but don't benefit you. If anything, these could be made less frequently.

Finally, if you have any colleagues who feel the same way, encourage them, NOT to bring up other issues at the meeting. Get them to schedule separate meetings for topics and only include team members that really need to be there.

Good luck. Many managers love meetings and think they're actually getting work done.

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