Why does my Scrum have so many meetings?

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In this episode, Professional Scrum Trainer Sam Falco addresses the complaint: "I don't like Scrum because there are too many meetings."

At first glance, that seems like an odd thing to say, because there are only four meetings.

The Meetings in Scrum

Sprint Planning is timeboxed at up to eight hours for a one-month Sprint. It's usually shorter for shorter Sprints.

The Daily Scrum, as the name implies, happens every day, but it's timeboxed to no more than 15 minutes.

Sprint Review takes no more than four hours for a one-month Sprint, and it's usually shorter for shorter Sprints.

Sprint Retrospective maxes out at up to three hours for a one-month Sprint. Like the other two big events, it's usually shorter for shorter Sprints.

In a one-month Sprint then, you're spending no more than 15 hours in the big events, and for the Daily Scrum, five or so hours spread out in fifteen-minute increments. And that's out of roughly 160 hours per month. That means that we're talking about twelve to thirteen percent of your time in meetings that are designed to make the remaining 87 percent more effective.

It's not actually that much time. So, what drives the complaint that Scrum has too many meetings?

Scrum Might be Adding Needed Structure

One driver comes when Scrum is being introduced into an environment where there aren't many existing meetings. Usually, this is an organization that is emerging from a startup culture, where there is a more wild-west style, with an informal network of ad-hoc communication. As startups grow, that informal network starts to break down. A framework like Scrum ensures that the necessary coordination and collaboration occurs. Otherwise, meetings metastasize across the calendar.

Get Rid of Some Old Meetings

More commonly, I hear the complaint in the context of an organization that already has a ton of existing meetings. Scrum events are overlaid like a veneer on existing process and meetings, which are retained without examining them to determine if they're providing value.

The Solution

The solution is not to add Scrum to existing process and meetings. Scrum is a radical replacement for an ineffective, bureaucratic culture--including all those meetings that aren't providing value. Odds are, the Scrum events supply all the value you need for effective collaboration and delivery. If you find that you really do need more structure than Scrum provides, you can always add it back in.

Regardless of which direction the concern about too many meetings comes from, implementing Scrum requires intentional, thoughtful organizational redesign. That calls for an experienced, effective Scrum Master who is adept at navigating all levels of the organization and helping achieve business agility.

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