Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Everybody Meeting

Historically, in software development, one sure way to kill developer enthusiasm and slow productivity is to have the infamous "everybody meeting", daily.

These meetings come in many forms, but let's use the "defect call" call as our example. This is particularly painful when the team is large and spread across multiple physical locations. At any one time a particular defect may involve 5-10% of the people on the call. Rather than the developer, business stakeholder, and QA person discussing the defect together offline, they spend 30 minutes or so reviewing the ticket, re-visiting the actual business requirements, whether it really is a defect, etc.

The other 15-20 people on the line may have no interest -- and they are relatively unproductive while the conversation continues.

Let's assume $50 per hour per person. For 20 people this is $1,000 per hour. If 15 people are not engaged in the defect being discussed then $750 per hour is being wasted, NOT counting the work they could be doing which is going undone. NOT counting the "why did I just waste my time" de-moralization effect.

Managers have a tendency to feel comfortable when everyone is attending the meeting and available for discussion. But caution must be exercised when these meetings involve more than 4 or 5 people. People need to do their "homework" first, and bring suggestions and solutions to the meeting if at all possible, reducing the negative effects (and costs) that a large meeting can cause.