Poking at any entrenched framework always elicits a response; almost all of the responses are well thought out and reasonable.  In the past five essays, we have explored two major questions: 

  1. Do the meetings identified in the Scrum Guide scale based on the duration of the sprint? The answer is that the ceremonies mentioned in the Scrum Guide require approximately 22% of the team’s capacity regardless of whether the sprint is one or 4 weeks. This topic surfaced in a discussion between Paul Herzog and myself. I generally find that shorter sprints require less meeting time, while that is not Paul’s experience. Meeting time scales linearly with sprint length therefore if we directly follow the Scrum Guide, sprint length does not proportionately buy us out of meeting time. By the book, Paul’s stance is correct. Reflecting on my use of Scrum and advice I impart (when it makes sense), I use the Scrum Guide as a guide and tweak the approach depending on sprint duration and risk. This led to the second question… 
  2. Are there ways to reduce the meeting burden (real or perceived)? The simple answer is yes, however, not all of the practices that are used to reduce meeting time are useful. For example, just not doing a ceremony is rarely the right answer. Others are generally useful if used for the right reason and the right circumstances.  For example, many teams do not do a daily Scrum (stand-up) on the first day of the sprint if they are doing sprint planning the same day thus reducing the amount of time in the daily Scrum. In a shorter sprint, the percentage improvement would be higher. Tweaks can reduce the amount of time required in meetings.  As Chris Hurney said, “One attribute that predicts a good team is a desire and sense of urgency to change.” Finding a balance between ceremonies and heads-down work is a necessity which means working with everyone involved. Scrum Guide is a guide not the Scrum Law Book; experiment but do it with your eyes open. 

All of the analysis and mental experiments we have used in the six essays on this topic are premised on teams that are using the ceremonies in Scrum. If a team or organization is leveraging a hybrid approach you will have to do more analysis. The goal of all process improvement should be to improve the flow of value delivered therefore reducing the burden of meeting time only is important if it liberates the team to deliver more value. The ceremonies have a purpose, and that purpose has to be met. This not a check the box exercise; it is critical to facilitate the delivery of value.  The tension centers on the two basic role sets in most agile frameworks: facilitators and delivery roles. Chris Hurney suggests that each role derives value from different activities. If both sets of roles seek to maximize the value they derive individually, the team will not be able to maximize the value it delivers to the organization. If facilitation roles derive value from group facetime it will be hard for the role to reduce meeting time. Change in a diverse environment is complicated.

Next: Exploring how roles generate value.