Neither too short, not too long, just right!
Often, meetings are scheduled for half an hour or an hour. That’s too short to really do something and to elaborate things all the way through. And it’s too long for just reporting on progress and planning for the next steps. As a result, time is lost on informal updates (How was your weekend?), getting coffee and partly working out elements of a subject.
Planning for short meetings is often done from the wrong sense of efficiency. If we do short meetings, we save our valuable time! Planning for longer meetings is normally just a habit. The leaner way is to find out about the goal of the meeting. And to distinguish between report progress reports, standard lean and agile meetings and problem solving meetings to reach these goals.
These may very well be planned in a relatively high frequency (daily!) for a max of 10 minutes. Has everybody done what should be done? What scheduled for today? Who needs what from whom? Are there any impediments? This is all that should be discussed during these conversations. Not more, not less. Preferably, these meetings are stand-up occasions -or scrums-. This keeps up the speed en reminds everyone that we’re dealing with a progress meeting only.
Standard lean & agile meetings
Meetings belonging to the company’s standard work may initially take a while, but in a year or so, the teams should have enough practice to speed them up. For experienced teams, user story meetings, iteration meetings and release evaluations don’t need to last more than 1½ to 2 hours. The secret for this is that the teams learn: Participants learn how to discuss only the necessary, and also, more and more features and user stories access the domain of standardized -and repeatable- work.
Problem solving meetings or mini kaizens
These are better scheduled and done in a lower frequency, yet with enough time, for instance half a day or a full day for just one problem to be solved. The subject of the meeting will not only be discussed, but also completed entirely, just as a mini kaizen: in order to tick it off from our action list.
To schedule half or full days for such meetings is no waste, because we will not only be meeting but also effectively improve some of the processes in the organization and get everything done to accomplish that: improving forms, tools, standardized work instructions, plus the wiki. By scheduling enough time to complete all the work to be done, we avoid at least one unnecessary progress meeting. And we work towards the great feeling of regular accomplishment.