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Caffeinated Coder A Grande, Triple Shot, Non-Fat Core Dump by Russell Ball

…just do it over there and try to be quiet about it. I’ve got work to do.

Anyone who has ever worked with me knows that I am not fond of meetings. I'd like to think that I have improved over the years, so it is not quite as apparent to people who don't know my body language well that I am getting impatient. I used to give ever-so-subtle hints like moving to the edge of my seat with my hands on the arms of the chair or throwing out the "...so is there anything else?" phrase with just the right intonation so as to warn listeners that there had better not be anything else. I'm sure I still do those things to some extent, but after being teased about it for a while I at least make an effort to exercise more patience these days.

One thing that has really helped improve my attitude towards meetings is the Agile practice of doing Daily Stand-ups. When I first heard that we were supposed increase the frequency of meetings from once every week to every day, I was skeptical to say the least. However, the format of a properly conducted stand-up meeting lends itself to very short, productive meetings that I actually find useful. Participants take turns answering three questions that focus on communicating to the group whether or not they have met the commitments they agreed to yesterday, what commitments they feel comfortable making today, and what issues are currently slowing them down. The physical discomfort of actually standing up in a circle is supposed to remind team members that they should be concise (the whole meeting should take no longer than 15 minutes) and reserve any topics that don't involve the whole group for side discussions afterwards.

If you are new to the practice or are dissatisfied with how your daily stand-ups are currently being conducted, I recommend reading this article by Martin Fowler. I especially liked the section on Bad Meeting Smells (not to be confused with the body odor smells noticeable when standing too closely) and how to fix them. I definitely recognized a few symptoms that our teams have grappled with at one time or another, such as meetings lasting longer than 15 minutes, excessive problem solving, the "I can't remember" phrase, and reporting to bosses not peers. I also appreciate how the main focus of each of Fowler's suggestions relates back to the goal of keeping the energy level in meetings high, which is ultimately what I don't like about the majority of traditional meetings I attend.

Now as for you meeting moths...shoo...

 

Posted on Thursday, August 16, 2007 8:14 AM Software Development Practices | Back to top


Comments on this post: Meeting Moths of the World, Unite!

# re: Meeting Moths of the World, Unite!
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I think hell just officially froze over! Russell Ball, actually admitting that a meeting is a good use of time?!? ;)
Left by Tami on Aug 24, 2007 3:20 PM

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