Avoid the Time Suck Hole: Adopt Timeboxed Meetings

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November 9, 2011

Avoid the Time Suck Hole: Adopt Timeboxed Meetings
How can you avoid those longwinded project update meetings? You know the type, where inevitably people end up rambling on, and the meeting takes up so much time that most see it as time wasted.
Today, I’d like to offer an agile scrum technique solution to the long meeting problem: the Timeboxed meeting. The Timeboxed meeting is typically used when a project is divided into different time periods, with each having its own schedule, deliverables and budget.
What is a Timeboxed meeting?
A Timeboxed meeting is much like its title; the goal is to box team members in. Only allow them a certain amount of time to update the team – ideally three minutes per person. Normally, each team member is asked to answer three questions:
1.What was done yesterday?
2.What challenges were faced?
3.What is the plan for today?
By focusing on very specific questions meetings are kept short and to the point, allowing team members to get back work quickly. Asking them to summarize their last 24 hours in three minutes is a tall order, so you may want to start by limiting the number team members per meeting but give them more time – five minutes an individual. As team members become more accustomed to the Timeboxed meeting, move it to three minutes and increase the number of people in the meeting. Before you know it those lengthy time sucking meetings will be a distant memory.
A quick note about the Timebox meeting, you must remember that the idea is to hold these meetings daily with the objective of updating the team quickly.
To learn more about the Timeboxed meeting check out the Project Management Institute’s Timeboxed meeting blog post.
http://blogs.pmi.org/blog/voices_on_project_management/2011/10/timeboxed-meetings-foster-effi.html TrackBack URL for this entry: http://blogs.pmi.org/mt-tb.cgi/761How can you avoid those longwinded project update meetings? You know the type, where inevitably people end up rambling on, and the meeting takes up so much time that most see it as time wasted.

How can you avoid those longwinded project update meetings?

Today, I’d like to offer an agile scrum solution to the long meeting problem: the Timeboxed meeting.

What is a Timeboxed meeting?

A Timeboxed meeting is much like its title; the goal is to box team members in. Only allow them a certain amount of time to update the team – ideally three minutes per person. Normally, each team member is asked to answer three questions:

  1. What was done yesterday?
  2. What challenges were faced?
  3. What is the plan for today?

This meeting structure is typically used when a project is divided into different time periods, with each having its own schedule, deliverables and budget. By focusing on very specific questions meetings are kept short and to the point, allowing team members to get back work quickly. Asking team members to summarize their last 24 hours in three minutes is a tall order, so you may want to start by limiting the number team members per meeting but give them more time – five minutes an individual. As team members become more accustomed to the Timeboxed meeting, move it to three minutes and increase the number of people in the meeting. Before you know it those lengthy time sucking meetings will be a distant memory.

A quick note about the Timebox meeting. For these meetings to work, you must remember that the idea is to hold them daily.

To learn more about the Timeboxed meeting check out the Project Management Institute’s Timeboxed meeting blog post.

6 Responses to “Avoid the Time Suck Hole: Adopt Timeboxed Meetings”

  1. Matt

    Hey Troy,

    Scrum is great – we used it a lot in our agile projects when I was an IT consultant. It doesn’t apply to every company, every project, every team and every circumstance, but when it’s a good fit it does wonders to shorten meetings, move projects ahead faster, get better feedback to and from the customer, etc.

    One of the most important elements of the “scrums” is that everyone is standing for the whole time it lasts. It encourages people to go faster, as they’re looking forward to sit again.

    Regards,

    Matt

    Reply
  2. PM Hut

    All these ideas about timeboxed meetings are great, but I personally think that it’s nearly impossible to adopt them all the time. Sometimes a team member has many issues, and other team members need to know about his issues because it’s affecting their work (dependencies).
     How do you deal with that?

    Reply
    • troylarson

      Hi PM Hut,

      I’ve found a great article about agile scrum meetings by Jason Yip. While he doesn’t overtly talk about how to deal with dependencies in his article, he does offer up some solutions to help keep these types of meetings. Maybe you can find some pointers here: http://martinfowler.com/articles/itsNotJustStandingUp.html

      Reply

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