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czwartek, 31 marca 2016

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Two structuring meetings patterns

As I describe it in my book it is good to structurize meetings (or parts of meetings) so that they get more effective. Here you can find two examples useful for Planning meetings (Scrum examples that can be easily adopted to other situations).

Structure: Expose the options

During the planning meeting there was a moment when the overall group energy was very low, but there were three guys intensively discussing about the subject having different opinions what to do next. There talked about their argument so passionately that it was very easy to get lost and miss the point, and I am afraid they also weren't sure what the other side is talking about. Then I suggested:
- Only three people are discussing here, the others are bored. Let's name the options you present and whole the team will vote and choose the solution.
And one of the team member got the pencil and started to write on the board:

  1. let's do the task as much as are able to, let's hope we will finish it in this sprint
  2. let's divide it into smaller items, and choose the subset we will do for sure
  3. let's take it to the refinement and we will do this item in the next sprint
It turned out that it was not so easy to express the intent clearly and it also turned out that one person didn't understand what the other wanted to say. Because all the team were suppose to vote they engaged in the discussion so that they could make a handy decision and the energy group was back.
Five people voted on second option and two people on the third. The decision was made.

What kind of structure you can find here?
When: group or just a few people are discussing intensively
1) notice that you can see not everybody is engaged or the decision far from being made
2) ask for naming the options (it would be great to write it so that everybody can see it)
3) vote on the options (you can do it similarily to the planning poker game)
4) if there is a draw: draw the option (or have any other arbitrary method to choose the option)

Structure: Structuring Planning meeting

When the particular type of meeting tends to be chaotic it is good idea to introduce structure to organize it.
When I thing about Scrum Planning meeting I like to seperate the steps of planning (a few selected steps):
1) The team browses the items that
a) have been refined recently
b) weren't finished in the last sprint
c) are at the top of the backlog
Browse means to remind very shortly intention of the item and not going into details.
2) Product Owner supported by the team prioritetises (expressing why) and chooses the items that are the strongest candidates to be chosen to the current sprint. In many cases it means that the weakest candidates are removed.
We do it so that we will not discuss about things that are not going to be developed in the sprint.
3) Starting from the top (the highest priority item) Product Owner presents (or reminds) acceptance criteria for the item and the team estimates it (supposing that items are refined enough to get estimated). This is also time to talk about details if it is neccessary.
Other version:
Product Owner presents all the items (one by one) and then the team has time on its own to do some brush desing and make estimations.
4) Team chooses how many items they can do so that they can make a reliable commitment.

No matter what kind of structure you use it's important to keep the borders of the steps clear - especially not to talk about details to early (or maybe not to talk at all).