One of the common complaints I hear from teams moving to an Agile approach are the number of meetings they must now attend. Planning sessions, daily stand-ups, sprint reviews, retrospectives, and product backlog grooming are now populating their calendar and they wonder when they will actually have time to work.
When statements like this come up, I try to explain why spending time together with your team on a consistent and recurring cadence is important because it begins to establish team rituals.
Wikipedia has a nice sentence describing rituals: They are the traditions of the community. When we establish rituals, we establish community.
Rituals are the traditions of the community.
Specifically, the reasons why the “rituals” of Agile matter are because they reinforce the traditions of:
Recognizing the Past. The retrospective allows us learn and grow from our past experiences in the healthy and supporting environment of a community.
Signaling New Beginnings. Regardless of how the previous sprint went, a new sprint and planning session allows the community to focus on what lies ahead with a clean slate.
Making Decisions. Working in an environment when decisions aren’t being made is frustrating. We’ve all been there. The planning session and sprint timebox establishes the tradition of decisions. Can we get this done during the sprint or not? Constraints can be wonderful things.
Triggering Movement. Our daily stand-up meeting allows us to get the blood flowing at the beginning of the day. And besides…
Creating Connection. Getting together on a daily basis also ensures a daily connection point and when someone is missing, we feel it. It’s also like a family dinner when family members talk about their day. It may feel mundane sometimes but you miss it when it’s not there anymore.
Celebrating With Each Other. The review session provides the team with an opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge the work the team has done.
Initially, it may feel like your days are full of meetings but by persisting with your team to a point of true community, the “meetings” become more efficient and can become more like your own team traditions.