Dailies and retrospectives
In everyday business life, many meetings are characterised by irrelevant chatter and endless discussions on recurring topics. Are you tired of getting bogged down in lengthy debates with no tangible results? Are you annoyed that valuable resources are wasted on seemingly inconclusive meetings, despite the potential of the bright minds assembled? Meetings should be about achieving tangible results. How can modern methods help make meetings more efficient and enjoyable?
Modern meeting formats
One solution is to use modern meeting formats such as dailies and retrospectives instead of long, aimless sessions. Such formats have become established in many organisations in recent years. From the world of the Scrum framework, you may already be familiar with the Daily Scrum Meeting, or Daily for short. Originally based in the Scrum environment, this practice can be applied to all types of organisations and projects, whether in traditional or agile environments.
A daily is short and to the point and owes its name to the fact that it takes place every day, ideally at the same time in the morning. It can be online or face-to-face, although face-to-face meetings are usually held standing up, hence the name Daily Stand-up Meetings. In a daily, everyone gathers in front of a task list, such as a Kanban board. Each participant has exactly two minutes to report what has been done since the last meeting, what is planned until the next meeting and where support is needed. The aim of these meetings is to get a quick overview, identify and solve problems immediately, make quick decisions and not waste time on lengthy discussions. If discussions are too large and not inclusive, they can be postponed to a later time when only those directly affected are present. It is helpful to keep an eye on the clock to maintain discipline. It is also important to avoid innuendo, personal remarks, accusations and insults.
The retrospective also comes from the Scrum world (called the Sprint Retrospective) and is as universal as the daily. It takes place every two to four weeks and serves to reflect on how things could be better in the future, in the sense of continuous improvement. Retrospective participants commit to respectful, open and structured interaction with each other. To ensure this, a specific question can be asked at the beginning of each retrospective: "On a scale of one to ten, to what extent do you feel able to speak openly today?" In a secret ballot, the average score should be above eight. If it is below eight, this indicates inhibitions that should be addressed.
The best results are achieved when participants can speak freely. Therefore, it is important to ask yourself whether you are able to do this. In general, it is important to find out what went well in the last two to four weeks, what goals were achieved, what went less well and where work processes can be improved. This can also be done using the Starfish Retrospective. Topics are categorised on a starfish with its five arms: "keep doing", "more of", "start doing", "stop doing" and "less of". Participants assign certain aspects of the project to these five categories and indicate what they would like to keep doing, have more of, start doing, stop doing or have less of in the future. The individual suggestions are then discussed, with an experienced facilitator ensuring that speaking time is distributed evenly. The aim is to determine the course of action for the next few weeks until the next review. This can then be re-evaluated and adjusted accordingly.
Can dailies and retrospectives really replace all other meetings? Probably not. For example, if you need to meet with representatives from a licensing authority or with reviewers, you will still need to do so. But most internal meetings can be replaced by dailies and retrospectives. This saves a lot of time because the dailies are short and almost everything is settled at the beginning of the working day.
Keywords: Project management, Retrospective