How to implement scrum-type meetings at work

How to implement scrum-type meetings at work

No matter what size office you work in, everyone has a job that they are responsible for. Maybe you’re part of a small creative team that is part of a much larger machine that runs an entire advertising agency. Or, perhaps you work at a startup company, and there’s less than 10 people in the whole office.

The point I’m getting at is … sometimes we are so involved in our own tasks and our own jobs, that we put up blinders to our coworkers. Have you ever asked the HR assistant what he/she does on a daily basis? Do you know what the web developer in the cubicle next to you does to fill his/her day? It’s OK if you don’t. In fact, a lot of corporations and businesses tend to operate that way. People are assigned work, and they do it – without ever really considering how all the different parts and people work together.

A new approach

There’s been a trend towards something called a “scrum meeting,” or in some instances it’s simply called a “standup meeting.” These short gatherings are specifically designed to get members of different departments together to chat about the status of the day or the week. Obviously, if you work in an office with hundreds of employees, this just isn’t feasible. Scrum meetings have their own set of rules, methodologies and guidelines … we’ll be using a watered down version of the same thing.

Let’s use the advertising agency example again.

  • Make manageable groups. Let’s say there are 40 people that work at an advertising agency … which is still quite a large group for this type of tactic. However, if you break the 40 people down into groups of 10, and then ensure that members from different departments are in attendance in each group, you will get the benefit you’re seeking.
  • Don’t take a seat. During a scrum meeting, everyone stands. This prevents people from getting too comfortable, veering too far off topic and generally wasting time. Humans don’t enjoy just “standing around” during a meeting. Which is the whole idea.
  • Take turns and stay on track. So, during the meeting, anyone can begin. That person, (let’s say it’s a graphic designer,) will talk about what client’s piece he’s working on. He can speak on progress, any obstacles, and maybe mention deadlines. It may even be a good idea to nominate someone to be a moderator to keep an eye on the clock. Each member should only speak for a few minutes. It’s not even necessary for people to bring notes, unless it will help them stay focused.

So what’s the benefit?

These quick, scrum-type meetings give everyone a sense of what is happening in an organization as a whole. You’ll gain insight into the functions of people that sit right next to you (or maybe even people you only pass by in the breakroom.) The more often they happen (maybe one-two times per week,) the more you’ll get a sense of how your efforts affect the business. You’ll see how other people’s jobs meld into what you’re doing. You might even broaden your circle of work friends! The corporation or business will grow because things will begin to become more cohesive. Overall goals will become more evident. Teamwork will make sense. In theory, everyone wants the company to succeed, because then the individuals themselves can do the same.  

How to start

If you’re not a manager, talk to one. Let him or her know your meeting idea and how it could benefit the department and the organization. This doesn’t have to be a scary or huge proposition, either. It’s just an idea that you can bring up. Depending on the kind of workplace you’re a part of, there may be hoops to jump through and certain people may need to approve new processes. No big deal! If it works, and you can get these meetings going for a test drive, you’ll probably be recognized for it.

Scrum-type meetings are much more manageable time wise than long, arduous status meetings, and they give everyone the chance to interact with people they may otherwise never have spoken with. They help bring together the scattered pieces of a business puzzle into a tight-knit, cohesive machine – the gears of which will work better together every day.

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