Meetings are one of the main tools of a work team. They can be a great help or they can be a source of pain. Today I tell you about a way to have synchronous meetings based on a text chat called Chat-base sprint meeting.
The meeting is synchronous in a text chat tool, like Slack. The person responsible for the meeting (usually the team leader) shared the date and time and sat this with a calendar app that allowed people to “accept”, “decline”, or “maybe” the meeting.
Every meeting has an agenda which is shared the day before. In this agenda each item has a time frame to discuss and the name of the meeting master (which can change from meeting to meeting). We also share sprint rules and goals as a message on the platform. For example:
Sprint Rules - topics will be time-boxed - avoid lengthy discussions - get back to complex topics bilaterally or in groups
Goals - Review things done so far, decide how to move on - create work packages/issues for the next two weeks and assign who can do what until the next sprint meet (as far as possible)
The meeting master says hi and asks to react with your favorite emoji to the text of the “Hi” to know who is in the meeting.
The first point of the agenda is always “pain points." Example:
Pain points (5min) Is there anything you would like to share/discusses? Let’s fix easy things right away and more complicated things after the sprint.
The meeting master writes the name of the topic, how much time we have to discuss, and specifies when it ends. The discussion happens in the thread. If the discussion end before the time, the meeting master indicates (in the thread) that we move on to the next topic. Outside the thread write a new message with the name of the next topic, the duration fo the discussion, and some text like “we are going to discuss xxx for xx minutes until xx:xx”. For example:
Topic 2 (10min) Current status, what has happened since last week (or last meeting, or last month or last sprint):
_point 1_ _point .._ _point n_
_task 1_ _task n_
Sometimes a topic is leading for someone else than the meeting master. In that case, the meeting master specifies who is the person leading that part of the meeting. This usually occurs when one person is responsible for an activity or has more information than the meeting master on that point.
All this data shared live on the platform is also on the agenda.
During the meeting people can go and back to the different threads in each topic and can comment. It is very useful for people who joined the meeting late.
The person moderating the meeting summarizes the decisions. The central points/decisions usually go to the corresponding topics in GitLab/Github, to follow up outside the meeting. The summary looks like this:
Summary of the sprint:
_Pain points: decision, task, responsables._ _Topic 1: decision, task, responsible._ _Topic 2: decision, task, responsible._
I participated in this kind of meeting with groups between 6 up to 20 people. Some team are stable and people know each other. Other teams the first time working together as a group. At some team tools like Slack was brand new, other team people use this kind of platform regularly. Some pros and cons on this particular type of meeting.
- The discussion is there for people than can’t join and the rest of the groups working on the project.
- It is easy to participate than a Zoom synchronous meeting (especially if you had caregiving tasks, bad internet connection or you are not yet fluent in the language used in the discussion).
- Times are respected more than in a videoconference.
- The discussion is orderly.
- Be on the lookout for post-meeting opinions or inquiries from people who were unable to join synchronously.
- You need to be fast writing and reading.
- The most difficult decisions end up being made in synchronous meetings by videoconference (there is a need to be face-to-face for those decisions).
If you found this material useful there is more to learn from written by people who know much more than I do on this subject.
Over the years I have seen many different ways to run a meeting and Greg Wilson has given one of my favorite talks on effective meetings. He has also written on the subject in this chapter of the book Teaching Tech Together. The Discussion Book also give 50 ways to get people talking.
In one of the institutions where I work, the joke is made that the institution is actually one big permanent meeting. Having efficient meetings can be a challenge but it is one worth pursuing.
What kind of meetings do you have?
- Posted on:
- April 16, 2022
- 4 minute read, 830 words