Not Another Scrum Event: 11 Responses ScrumMaster’s Can Use To Fight Agile’s Most Common Argument

By: Resalin Gurka | Feb 09, 2016 |  Article,  Scrum,  ScrumMaster

Not another scrum event: Daily stand up

With Daily Scrum, Backlog Grooming, Sprint Planning, Sprint Review, and finally the Retrospective, Scrum provides a lot of opportunities for the team to come together and discuss, assess, and pivot when necessary. In other words, meet on a regular basis.

Following the framework, a two-week Sprint will have up to ten hours of meetings per team member. Too much? You will hear this question a lot, especially if the organization is new to Agile and Scrum.

The answer to that question is no. Before getting to the arguments, let’s do a quick review of all the Scrum meetings.

Scrum Events: A Review

1. Backlog Grooming**

Who: Product Owner, ScrumMaster and Development Team

When: Before Sprint Planning at a regular cadence (once every 1 to 2 weeks)

Purpose: Keep work “ready” for the team and provide estimates for the PO

Why: To avoid surprises during the Sprint and reduce risk

Timebox: 1 hour per week of the Sprint

2. Sprint Planning

Who: Scrum Team (PO, SM, Development Team)

When: First activity of day 1 of Sprint

Purpose: To gain a shared understanding and shared commitment of what the team is going to do and how they are going to do it.

Why: To ensure the team has clarity and alignment of the mission before just blindly starting work.

Timebox: 2 hours per week of the Sprint (1-week Sprint = 2 hours for Sprint Planning)

3. Daily Scrum

Who: Scrum Team

When: Daily at a set time (Consistency is key)

Purpose: To allow the team to inspect and adapt their Sprint plan and identify and mitigate risks impeding progress

Why: To stay synchronized and aligned throughout the Sprint

Timebox: 15 min

4. Sprint Review

Who: Business Stakeholders, Scrum Team

When: Last day of Sprint

Purpose: To showcase/demo what was completed during Sprint and get feedback from stakeholders

Why: To inspect and adapt progress on building the product

Timebox: 1 hour per week of the Sprint

5. Sprint Retrospective

Who: Scrum Team

When: Last day of Sprint

Purpose: An opportunity to improve team dynamics and processes by discussing what worked well and finding solutions for inefficiencies

Why: To continuously improve as a team

Timebox: 1 hour per week of the Sprint


Note: Timebox means the team should spend no more than the set time.


Making The Case For Scrum Meetings

It’s important that all Scrum leaders, whether they are the official ScrumMaster or just the champion for the organization, be prepared to refute the argument as it will surface if it hasn’t already.


#1: The collective meeting framework saves time in the long run by preventing double work or worse, working on the wrong thing.

#2: You know what they say about assuming. Scrum meetings, particularly Sprint Planning, prevent teams from working on bad assumptions because they provide the opportunity to clarify acceptance criteria.

#3: Meetings keep the line of communication between the Team and Stakeholders open and flowing.

#4: Activities, particularly the Daily Scrum, keep team members happy because roadblocks are removed faster.

#5: Meetings cultivate team member autonomy because of the shared knowledge of what needs to be accomplished. Empowered employees = happy employees.

#6: Are there too many meetings, or are the meetings not effective? Facilitation mistakes and lack of discipline can turn any meeting into a grass growing competition.

#7: Cut old meetings. It’s easy to forget to remove old meetings when you’re adopting something new.

#8: It’s really not that much. Using our two-week Sprint as an example, 10 hours of meeting is only 13 percent of 80 hours (2 weeks x standard 40-hr week). If meetings are a waste of time, keep in mind that the average US consumer spends 40 minutes a day on Facebook.  

#9: Follow the rules. Scrum events have a very specific purpose and recommended meeting attendants for a reason–to save time and keep people focused on what they need to do. Don’t forget that each meeting is time-boxed.

#10: If Scrum events did not exist, would the team have enough opportunity to collaborate? When?

#11: Remember team activities are different from individual activities.

A team is more than the sum of its parts and Scrum meetings focus on making the outputs of a team better. Scrum team members have plenty of alone time anyway (see #9).

Calendar invites don’t make teams more Agile, it’s what happens during the meetings. Before ditching the framework for something entirely new (and going down the rabbit hole of change), use the preceding arguments to investigate why Scrum meetings may not be working.

**While Backlog Grooming is not officially part of the Scrum framework, it is un-officially and universally part of Scrum implementation.

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