Finding the proper level of meetings is always a bit tricky, all the more in a French culture where we tend to over-meet. When you add a transition to an Agile practice, where there are quite a lot of meeting rituals, it can become overwhelming.
- At the agile team level: you have sprint plannings, demos, retrospectives, various workshops with PO to clarify the scope and specifications, technical meetings to work and review the technical conception. Some are short meetings, some are longer. Some of them involve only a 2-3 people. But all in all, this creates a rhythm of meetings, “rituals”, in the sprint cycle.
- On top of that, at the higher level, we have weekly meetings to share information between by roles: all lead developers, or all the project managers (both technical and functional…yes, by the way, we still have those roles, even if this is not pure agile. Our functional project managers are tending to a PO role, and our technical project managers are both scrum masters and team managers. But I will talk more about that in a future post). We try to keep those meetings short and straight to the point, but they are an important place to share key communication and align everyone on the current situation.
- Then we have a Monthly Dev Meeting, for the whole dev team. This is a time when we share the activity of the whole Paris Dev Team : each dev team briefly presents their current activity. I share executive messages, objective, roadmap and vision. We do a status on the on-going technical projects. Finally we talk about the team news, coming events,… We sometimes have Q&A at the end but usually people are shy in front of the whole audience. This is important for all members of the team to be aware of what is happening overall and get from time to time the bigger picture. Also for each of those meetings, I build a powerpoint presentation with the input of all team members, and share it extensively to the whole company on our intranet. This is part of a communication exercise, from the IT team towards the other teams (marketing, product, HR…), to promote the good work done in the dev team, highlight the recent achievements, and pursue the goal of having IT considered as a strong asset (which is not part of the historical nature of the Betclic enterprise culture).
- Finally we have regular short meetings to coordinate technical projects. Those projects usually involve 2-3 developers from various teams, working together on a cross-technical subject for the benefit of all. And so we meet on a weekly basis to review the status and next steps.
So that’s a lot. How do we make sure it is not too much? Firstly it is a lot for me, as I am involved in a lot of those. But I would just consider that this is basically my job. As a manager I am here to participate in those meetings, follow up, arbitrate, advise and so on. For other team members, it is important to be part of the meetings that make sense, and avoid being involved in all of them. They usually are the first ones to complain when they feel there are in too many meetings, so that’s a sort of auto-limitation. But sometimes they need help to pick the proper meetings, arbitrate and organize their work time.
A good exercise when this happens is to ask the person to write down all meetings they attend to on a regular basis, add a few additional ones on top of it (the one-shot ones); then add up the time every week and every month. You will quickly see if this is relevant depending on the person, and will have a better vision on how to prioritize.
What’s your experience on the subject? What tips and tricks do you have? Let me know…