I recently was quoted as saying, I’ve yet to encounter an organization that was excited to put in the time for agile to be successful when they first get started.
Often Scrum is adopted, and subsequently adapted for what the organization can tolerate in terms of the time commitment. So we are all talking about the same thing here, Scrum meetings consist of daily stand up (or scrum, or huddle, depending on your implementation), sprint planning, sprint demo, backlog grooming, retrospective, in some implementations, mid-sprint review/checkin.
General consensus for standup or scrum meetings are that it should last 15 minutes. Hardly anyone disagrees on this, though lots of people have trouble implementing this. Run well, standup shouldn’t go over 15 minutes. If they do, it’s time to get curious.
When it comes to sprint planning, while there is some disagreement on the amount of time groups should spend, I can almost guarantee an hour is unlikely to be sufficient. Lots of businesses do not want to spend more time however. If you’re only spending an hour on sprint planning, you’re losing out on a lot. You’re crippling your team.
There are a few theories on the appropriate amount of time, from 4 hours for a 2 week sprint, to 1 day for a 1 month sprint. I’ve found 2 hours *can* work, however, it depends on the work being discussed, and the team’s need.
Backlog review can take an hour, or it could take more depending on the backlog, the product owner and the expertise in the room.
Retrospectives should take as long as your sprint planning meetings should. You don’t get into the heart of how a team can do better or the problems that they are facing in the course of an hour. I’ve found two hours is really the sweet spot for organizations unwilling to spare more time. It’s enough time to knock out a check in activity, get the team warmed up to discuss things and start digging into the real things that get in their way or help them succeed. You can wrap up with a check out activity and sometimes don’t even need all that time.
It’s an interesting quandary. I see organizations that say they want to get better and see the benefits, but they don’t want it to cost them any time. Things worth doing rarely work that way.