The Only Types of Agile Meetings You Need

People in the tech industry are familiar with the many types of agile meetings. Stand-ups, retrospectives, planning – these types of meetings are all well known to us.

What if you’ve never been part of an agile team before?

I recently encountered this when a colleague of mine asked me:

“How do your engineering teams work together?”

This seems like a simple question. The details are so much more complex, though. I could dive into planning, coding, design, or other deep topics. Instead, I like to start with the agile meetings we use.

What are the types of agile meetings that creative teams use to collaborate?

I’ll answer this question with the five types of agile meetings I use on my teams. No more, no less.

The Agile Meeting Where You Standup – Daily

The Daily Standup is where an agile team comes together to share progress and remove blockers. The group talks about its day-to-day problems, tactics, and events. The meeting lasts for 15 minutes and involves the team answering the following questions:

  • What did I complete yesterday that contributed to the team?
  • What do I plan to accomplish today to contribute to the team?
  • What impediments do I see that prevent the team from achieving its goals?

While this is a simple agile meeting on the surface, pay attention to how the team engages. Over time, you will see people check out or leave with less understanding. When you start to see this, it’s time to change the format to get the team engaged. Check out my post on why many people see the Daily Standup as a waste of time for solutions.

The Agile Meeting Where You Demo – Weekly

The Weekly Demo meetings are one of the most fun parts of an Agile team. These agile meetings are for the team to celebrate its successes by showing what they accomplished.

There isn’t a specific format for this meeting, it’s fairly casual. On my teams, it usually results in people volunteering and showing what they worked on. Other teams have used a round-robin approach where each person shares what they produced. All that matters is that you take the time to allow your team to show each other what they’ve made.

As for scheduling this session, I’ve seen it replace Daily Standup or be its own meeting. Replacing the Daily Standup is the most straightforward approach as demos lead to status updates. The meeting may only last for 15 minutes, though. 

For meetings devoted only to demos, that can give the team space to dig into the weeds of how the demo works. These sessions can last for 30-60 minutes, which provides breathing room to ask questions.

The Type of Agile Meeting Where You Plan

I see the Planning Meeting as the product manager’s time to shine on an agile team. The point of this meeting is two-fold. First, the team’s leaders need a high level understanding of the team’s status. Secondly, it’s to get everyone aligned on the same goals for the next sprint. These meetings are at their best when everyone walks away with a shared understanding of:

  • What is the high-level status of our current projects? 
  • What are the goals we all need to be aligned on over this week or sprint?
  • What have we learned since the last feature we shipped, and what impact has it had on our users?

The best facilitator for this meeting is the product manager or someone that leads the team. These are the key representatives of the team to the rest of the business. It’s critical for them to have a higher-level view of the group’s status.

When it comes to the format, it will vary on who is leading the meeting and what the team wants. Teams that use the scrum method may use the time to scope out and estimate work. Other teams may do something different. Experiment and find what works for you! There are many different ways to get the answers to the questions of the planning meeting.

The Type of Agile Meeting Where You Reflect

The Retrospective is the most crucial agile meeting to have on a team. The goal is for the team to provide feedback on what went well and what can be improved. 

Do not skip this meeting.

The Retrospective is the agile meeting for your team to speak their mind. It is a space where trust is built by listening and acting upon feedback.

These agile meetings last for about an hour and occur every two to three weeks. The facilitator is key to making this time successful. They must create an environment for everyone to be candid with each other. They will need to be effective at not only getting people to talk but to speak with candor. 

There are many formats for making this a productive meeting. I default to using a standard format for this agile meeting. At the start, have the team spend five minutes writing answers to the following:

  • What didn’t go well since the last retrospective, and how can the team improve?
  • What has gone well since the previous retrospective?

Once everyone finishes, have each people talk about what they wrote down. From there, group similar pieces of feedback together and ideate on solutions. Once a good solution is 

It sounds simple but can be emotionally draining.

One approach to improve this is to have everyone talk about “What went well?” at the end of the meeting. This way, everyone leaves the discussion on a high note.

For other retrospective format ideas, check out the Agile Retrospective Wiki for ideas.

The Agile Meeting Where All Hands Meet

The All Hands meeting is the place where your entire department gets a high-level view of what’s going on. 

Teams will give demos of the most impactful things they’ve shipped. Leaders will communicate strategic visions to focus the team’s energy. You may even see presentations from leaders in other departments that depend on your team’s work.

The frequency of these meetings will vary depending on the size of your department. For single teams or small startups, the frequency may be monthly. For larger groups, say about 2-5 teams, I find quarterly all hands is a nice cadence. 

An All Hands meeting is about getting everyone aligned on the same vision. I recommend checking out the book Team of Teams to figure out the suitable topics to explore.

Conclusion

There you have it – the five types of agile meetings I use on my teams. Some processes may ask for more, some less. I find that these five types of agile meetings are the key ones you need to keep the team engaged and focused on its goal:

Shipping great products.

What meetings do you use on your teams? What are your favorite types of meetings or formats to keep your team engaged?

Let me know on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Further Reading