5 don'ts for an efficient meeting rhythm

Over the past 12 years the Itsavirus team has gained a lot of experience and knowledge in how to set up an efficient meeting structure, one that allows your company to grow, while managing a large projects effectively. Naturally, we’ve also made our share of mistakes. Personally, I’ve also helped out some startups and have seen some of their mistakes as well. I’d like to share some of these with you and help you avoid some of the most obvious mistakes.

1: Don't introduce daily huddles without a proper structure.

When you just start to do a daily huddle without any clear structure, people will just start talking. It will result in long and pointless meetings. It will be very likely that after a couple of weeks you will just give up. Remember, the goal of a daily huddle is for the team to synchronize their activities. During a daily huddle, the scrum team only highlights; what did you do, do you have impediments and what is your plan for today? A typical scrum meeting should take no more than 15 minutes.


2: Don't introduce daily huddles in a team that’s too big.

When your company grows, your team grows with it. In itself that's great news. However, it does not make any sense to have a daily huddle together if the team is over 8 people. Again, the meetings become too long, boring and therefore will lose meaning. The best size for a sprint team is 5. When you have grown your team to 8 people or more, I would suggest creating separate teams.


3: Don't implement a meeting structure without proper roles inside your organisation.

When there are no clear roles, meetings become pointless. You need to make sure to appoint the product owner and the scrum master and define their exact tasks.. Although this might sound trivial, I have seen a lack of definition of roles in many startups - and in a startup, many people have many different roles and responsibilities. And usually, there are some changes along the road as well. Trying to reduce complexity with clear roles and responsibility per project helps you to scale up.

4: Don't implement the wrong meeting structure

I have seen smart people, many with a management consultancy background, making a switch to a startup. I witnessed a scenario where it was their responsibility to help the startup to become scalable. One of their first decisions is to implement a meeting flow that follows in the principles of a (usually larger) matrix organisation.

One of the main ideas of the matrix organisation is to separate the management functions into many separate "sub-organizations". Consequently, the team will have “marketing meetings” and “design meetings” etc. However, such clear functional divisions in a startup are usually not present. Implementing a meeting rhythm that follows the principles of the complex matrix organisation will therefore cause a lot of confusion.

Decisions in one meeting may have an impact on others may need to be informed or involved, but that are not in that meeting. You cannot apply the same rules that work in a big organisation to a smaller company or startup.


5: Don't set up a meeting structure without a more holistic approach to how you manage your company.

To be honest (and lucky for me), this is not a mistake I made. However, I have seen it with one of the startups that I helped.

The first thing I suggested was to implement a proper meeting structure. However, when doing this, I noticed that many necessary conditions were also not in place. The start-up, like many,  was just chasing opportunities. That is understandable, but consequently they had to change their plans every week or month and nothing ever really gets done. When you approach the end of your runway, the becomes very complex.

Before implementing a good meeting structure, you need to have a holistic vision on how to manage your company. You need to have a clear product roadmap. You need to work with a solid framework that helps you to determine and execute on achieving your goals.

Personally I get a lot of my inspiration from the following sources:

Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It...and Why the Rest Don't (Rockefeller Habits 2.0)

Objective Key Results

Spotify’s implementation of Agile