Good news: you have less time to do more! I’m not kidding. Scrum masters can do it, and I’ll show you how I accomplish it in three easy steps using our Mindjet for Mac product!
Time-boxing is one of my favorite Agile principles, and I’ve used it ruthlessly since reading One-Minute-Manager in college.
Like other scrum masters, my team is a combination of both local and remote team members, and my job is to keep them working together daily! I use Mindjet Tasks instead of email for most of my agile meeting invites. This approach keeps the email clutter down, allows my team members to follow and comment in a single thread, and sends timely notifications. I like my team members to stay notified with alerts from me, their Scrum Master.
As I use my mobile devices instead of desktops more frequently (easier when running around the office from meeting to meeting), I want my laptops to act more like mobile devices with all my important apps on and open all the time! With Mindjet, I use the Open at Login Mac OS feature. This launches the app on startup and keeps it open and available all the time, where I need it.
I then immediately go to full screen mode to take advantage of all available screen real estate. More is more.
For my remote team members, I have them either follow my project map via our Mindjet Files cloud service, or I use the handy “Share via Messages” feature from within the app. My agile team members are always on chat, so I find it a convenient way to stay in the Mindjet app and still send files.
Step 1: Team members provide input
Time-box: Two minutes per member (fifteen minutes cap)
I want ALL my agile team members to participate in the meeting (i.e. no checking email, texting, etc.). I accomplish this by using two key features in our Mac app: Quick Entry and Timer. I start by giving everybody two minutes on the Timer to state their ideas in a brisk, bullet point manner. Everyone can see the Timer, and I like its cool, retro look and feel.
I capture each point using the easy Quick Entry mode, which is a like an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) brainstorming feature. Works for me! Two minutes is enough to capture the top points and get a quick go-round from the team. Remote team members send me ideas via Mac Mail or Messenger, where I can easily drag and drop them into my Mindjet meeting map.
Step 2: Team confidence and vote
Timebox: Ten minutes
After each team member has taken their turn, we do an agile team vote on which are the most important topics to prioritize. Each idea gets a Fist of Five confidence vote. Another fave from the Agile toolbox!
We keep the overall agile goal of what needs to be done, and can be accomplished by the team to deliver the most customer and business value, soonest.
Step 3: Team members volunteer for tasks
Timebox = Ten minutes
I open the Task pane from the Inspector, and enter team member names in the Resource field. Other task info such as start/due dates, duration, priority and progress can also be entered. I usually do this later on my own scrum master time so that team members can get out of the meeting and back to creating customer value.
With this approach, I can shave fifteen minutes from the standard one hour sprint planning meeting. There are selfish reasons for this as it’s easier to break down my wall boards and sticky notes in preparation for my next optimized meeting! Less is more.