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:  (more…)

Storms on the horizon!

In whatever flavor of agile that you are doing, meetings and ceremonies are lightning rods for resistance. In response, numerous approaches for improving the scenario have sprung up. Most of the tweaks or go-to techniques are a reflection of teams, coaches, guides, and Scrum Masters being agile and are great ideas for the situations a team might find itself in; a few, however, are bad ideas (perhaps for good reasons but bad nevertheless). (more…)


Meeting Time Is Not Always The High Point Of The Day

If you have ever performed as a Scrum Master or agile coach you have been asked about the overhead in Scrum. Overhead is almost always a codeword for meetings where “stuff” happens but nothing is built, coded, or tested, which in a software-centric scenario will drive a coder or tester up a wall. If we exclude (for the time being) some really bad practices that have been promoted and adopted, the amount of time in Scrum specific meetings is generally predictable. (more…)

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SPaMCAST 598 features our essay titled, Recognizing A Toxic Meeting Culture. Just because you are meeting remotely doesn’t mean meeting culture has been reset. Now even more than when we are all together, getting meeting culture right is critical to maximizing communication. 

We will also return to the QA Corner with Jeremy Berriault. Jeremy and I talked about continuous learning.  Our discussion was taped earlier this year; it was a different time. I left the references to excitement about the new year in the comments to show how fast the world can change. And it can change again!

Re-Read Saturday News  (more…)

Dirty glasses at a bar

I thought you were taking notes!

A Korn Ferry survey indicated that 67% of respondents felt that they are spending too much time on meetings and calls which “distract from making an impact at work.” Many organizations have tried to rein in meetings by trying tactics like no meeting days to increase focus time. It is a shame that the idea has not caught on. On a personal level, I habitually block chunks of my calendar to ensure I can not be automatically booked into meetings. Note, the Korn Ferry survey indicates that 35% of people invited to a meeting they feel will be unproductive still accept and attend. We need to fix this productivity sink. Measurement is table stakes for change. A few simple measurement approaches that are useful for beginning a dialogue are: (more…)


It’s 6:30 PM, you are getting ready to shut the computer down and take the long commute to the kitchen (if you reading this in 2021 lookup COVID-19), should you call a meeting for tomorrow morning or not? It is decision time. If we overlook the probability that no one will be able to do the prework and you might not have an agenda close at hand, our simple checklist can steer you away from meetings where they do not make sense. (more…)

A Real Hangout Is Not A Toxic Meeting!

In some organizations meeting culture is out of control or, worse yet, toxic. In order to see how bad the situation is, measure the problem. One simple measure to understand how much of a workweek that is consumed by meetings is to calculate a burden rate (burden rate generally is the amount of non-engineering time divided by the total time expended on a project or sprint). In this case, we are focused on meetings rather than all of the non-engineering activities. For software or hardware teams I would not count specific working sessions such as pair or mob programming “meetings” — these are engineering activities that are specifically designed to develop functionality. I would, however, count all of the classic Scrum ceremonies. To get a sense of the range of possible levels of meeting burdens teams have to live with, I asked five different friends (a combination of project managers or Scrum Masters) to estimate the meeting burden rate for their entire team.  (more…)

A complex topic!

I overheard a conversation, in the old days when people worked in offices with other people, in which someone was asked whether they should have a meeting to discuss a topic. The response, dripping with sarcasm, was something along the lines of “sure, meetings are my favorite pastime.” The same week I heard someone tell a direct report that office time was for meetings and after-hours was time to get everything else done — I know the two people involved and this was only a little tongue in cheek. Meetings often seem to consume whole days. A study by The Muse indicates that organizations consume 15% of their total time in meetings. Even if the statistic is wrong by a little, most of the people I interact with believe they spend too much time in meetings. Part of the issue is that meetings have become a currency that people use to measure importance, therefore lots of meetings occur for the wrong reasons. Rather than focusing on the bad reasons, five good reasons to have a meeting are: (more…)

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SPaMCAST 569 features our essay on the five types of meetings.  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). Let’s put a name on the five most common types in software-centric organizations.

We will also have a visit from Jeremy Berriault.  In the QA Corner this month, Jeremy provides observations about the inclusion (and sometimes the lack of inclusion) of QAs in ceremonies such as the Daily Scrum.  Jeremy can be reached at Berriault and Associates Consulting Group or by email at Jeremy.Berriault@Berriaultandassociates.com.  (more…)

A mad house or a meeting?

Depending on whom you ask and/or when you ask, meetings are a bane or boon.  Scrum practitioners often call the standard meetings ‘ceremonies’. The term confers a huge amount of gravitas to events that are just meetings.  What sets them aside from many run-of-the-mill conference calls is their explicit purpose.   (more…)