How to Make a Timeboxed Event More Effective?

Timeboxed Event More Effective

How do we better utilize our time attending an insane number of meetings?

Coaches get this asked a lot. While little can be done about the number of meetings just like driving in bumper to bumper traffic, we can surely improve the in-car time utilization!

To make the situation worse, we are in the middle of a pandemic, and one thing that we all have experienced is the spike in the sheer number of meetings. What makes this situation more annoying is the purposeless, lacklustre, voice dropping due to poor internet connections and an absolute lack of timeboxing sense in a virtual environment.

Those who are applying scrum have to deal with the additional pain of  all the events being timeboxed. Below is an estimate of the time spent across various events based on the sprint size.

Sprint Size
Meetings 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week
Sprint Planning 2 Hrs 4 Hrs 6 Hrs 8 Hrs
Daily Scrum 15 Min 15 Min 15 Min 15 Min
Refinement 30 Min 1-2 Hrs 3-5 Hrs 5-8 Hrs
Review 1 Hrs 2 Hrs 3 Hrs 4 Hrs
Retrospective 45 Min 1.5 Hrs 2 Hr 15 Min 3 Hrs

* Timeboxing for Refinement event is not mentioned in scrum guide and is purely based on experience So how does one rationalize the time spent on these events? How does one make best use of the time allotted, focusing on keeping the event productive and motivate team members to contribute effectively and efficiently so that everyone’s time is better utilized? Below are some of the things which have worked for us.

    • All the events should be booked in advance and we should emphasize invitees on accepting or rejecting the event. No action leads to confusion on their participation
    • It’s Ok to wait for people if they haven’t shown up on time but that should be not more than 2 minutes. 
    • We should have a facilitator of the meeting and if there is none then by default the organiser of the event should facilitate
    • Try to keep 4 parts of your meeting –
          • Header – To read the objective of meeting, the ground rules, expected takeaways and also if any participant want to add something more to agenda
          • Body – This is where we discuss the agenda items in detail and fulfil them.
          • Tail – This is about concluding the takeaways of the meeting. Checking if we have fulfilled the agenda and the mutual agreements
          • Next steps – In case we are vouching to meet again then we need to talk about what could be the agenda of that meeting
    • We believe that any meeting without an agenda should be rejected 🙂
    • Many times, we get stuck in endless loop and in that case the facilitator should be empowered to cut it and let people get aligned with agenda again
    • Also, try to find a ‘no meeting zone’ where a stretch of 5-6 hours in a day should be for individuals to do their ‘work’. For example, we can insist all stakeholders keep meetings before 11 am or after 5 pm so that the team members could have productive time for finishing their daily commitments.

PS – At few customers, we have kickstarted ‘No meeting Fridays’. We all need some breathing space for ourselves. Wishing you all the best in your Agile Journey! Do leave your comments, we will love to hear your experience and unique perspectives. Anuj M Ojha

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