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What makes a ‘good’ meeting?

No one likes to admit the meetings they facilitate aren’t purposeful. But…

❔ Do they always achieve their intended purpose?
❔ Are the participants constantly changing the topic and digressing?
❔ Did the participants find it a useful way to spend their valuable time?

For me, the trade-off to achieve these things has often resulted in the ‘control’ of meetings, rather than supporting the self-management of teams. To counter it, I use the B.E.A.F. approach.

Boundaries – Define the box. Why are the attendees there? What is the problem we are trying to solve? This allows participants to self-correct when tangents occur.

Execution – Facilitation technique. Are you going to use liberating structures? A good old fashioned ‘chin wag’? Ensure your technique is appropriate to the boundaries.

Actions – Next steps. Where do you go from here? What do people need to do? Even if the output was a simple decision that enabled you personally to act, state what you are now going to do. This sets expectations and makes work transparent.

Finish – Just….finish. Did you book an hour slot when it only needed 20 minutes? Finish early or at least on time. Don’t fill the calendar and digress. Be purposeful and focused. Giving people their time back is a gift that is so easy to give.

Consider how a ‘good meeting’ is any different with the context of Scrum. Scrum has four formal opportunities for inspection and adaptation of its artefacts and when considering the B.E.A.F. approach mentioned, the boundaries are clear and almost ‘written for you’ – it is a Scrum Master’s accountability to ensure that the events are purposeful and achieving their intended aim. As a Scrum Master, help make the boundaries of each event transparent and then let the team self-manage the execution, action allocation and time box. If they can’t manage that right now, that’s okay, but it’s something you’ll need to work with them on as self-management is a key tenet of a successful Scrum Team.

What do you think? I think having a bit of B.E.A.F. in a meeting or Scrum event can never be a bad thing…

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