Meetings are more than just a gathering of people.

Meetings are the most important event in any organization — well that is what it seems like.  It can also be said that meetings are the bane of every human that isn’t buying or selling something (and that caveat might be an overstatement). There is an enormous amount of literature purporting to deliver effective meetings.  If we use the simple Daily Scrum as an example even what should be straightforward wander off course if participants use the meeting for more than it was intended. A quick query of internet sources suggests that there are anywhere from 6 to 16 types of meetings. The most common meeting types in software-centric organizations are:

  1. Status Meetings that describe where the team members are on different pieces of work. 
  2. Planning Meetings that decide what the team should be doing and when for a specific period of time.
  3. Decision-Making Meetings (and a variant focused on building consensus around decisions) that establish options and agree on a path forward.  The consensus variant ensures that the group has established a general agreement on the decision before moving forward.
  4. Problem Solving Meetings are exactly what they sound like, a gathering of people with an explicit goal to figure out a specific issue.
  5. Data Dumps (also called Information Sharing Meetings) occur when information is provided to the audience for consideration and consumption in one direction, typically over a longer time horizon than the meeting.

Each meeting type has a specific goal and deliverable.  For example, a status meeting provides the attendees with a point-in-time report on progress for a piece of work. A Daily Scrum is a planning meeting whose agenda is to coordinate the activities of the team members for the next 24 hours.  Meetings get messy when they combine types (and therefore goals). Combining the planning and problem solving into a Daily Scrum yields meetings that can seem like they run on forever. This is why Scrum Masters and coaches recommend moving problem-solving and decision-making to follow on meetings where only those that need to be involved are included.  The Scaled Agile Framework Enterprise (SAFe) includes an event, Program Increment Planning (PIP) that incorporates all five types of meets in a two-day extravaganza. Timeboxing is used to keep the teams and stakeholders focused on reaching the PIP’s goals. 

Each type of meeting has a specific goal.  Knowledge of the goal will determine who should be involved and a range of approaches for delivery. The events, meetings, used in agile are NO different from any other type of meeting.

Next:  Standard Scrum Meeting and  Delivery Approaches.