in Scrum for Beginners

Are Scrum Meetings Unfit for Small Startups With 25-50 People?

“Are Scrum meetings unfit for small startups with 25-50 people?”

One of my x-colleagues asked me this question. His name is Dave. Dave grew his startup from 3 to 30 people in two years.

Dave had heard some good and some horror stories about how an agile framework such as Scrum can serve or disserve a startup.

Here was my answer:

Scrum meetings are a good fit for small startups with 25-50 or even 100 people also. The purpose of having a Scrum meeting is to identify the problems that will be dealt with by the relevant subgroup immediately after the meeting.

No matter how small or big, businesses are all about identifying and solving the problems and creating value. And, Scrum meetings, often known as Daily Standup and Daily Scrum, are good solution enabler.

During the Daily Scrum, which is time-boxed for 15 minutes only, each team member answers the following three questions:

  1. What did I do yesterday?
  2. What will I do today?
  3. Are there any impediments or blockers in my way?

Scrum is more effective if the team size is between 5 or 9 but if the team size is bigger then there is an alternate called Scrum of Scrums.

By providing focused attention on what each person accomplished yesterday and will accomplish today, the team gains a very good understanding of where the team stands against the set team goal.

If the startup has a clearly defined team goal, then Scrum meetings could be very effective. If the startup does not have a clearly defined team goal, then it might seem like a Scrum fitment issue but in fact, it is the business problem not the process problem.

Nonetheless, it is important to get clear about what Scrum meeting is not:

  1. Scrum meeting is not a status update meeting: In a typical status update meeting, the boss collects the information about who is behind the schedule and sets her on target. In Scrum meetings, each team member makes a commitment to each other.
  2. Scrum meeting is not a problem-solution meeting: In a typical problem-solution meeting, the problem is clearly communicated and various ways to solve the problem are brainstormed, agreed upon and next actions are identified. Scrum meeting facilitates the “problem identification” job, which is usually followed by a problem-solution meeting.

Scrum meeting is a ceremony which cannot fit or unfit. The fitment of a ceremony depends upon parameters such as organization’s belief system, enterprise environment factors, short term and long term goals and the most important, attitude and priorities of the people participating in the ceremony.

Additional reading: My $0.2 on How to Conduct On-target Daily Scrum Meeting.