Big Room Planning: An Introvert’s Guide

This post was originally published on November 9th, 2015 on LinkedIn.

Big room planning is the quarterly planning session for the Scaled Agile Framework.  During this exercise, all of our teams, management, legal, compliance, and many others participated.  About 150-200 people all together – getting things done at a much faster pace than would be done otherwise.

But as an introvert, boy was it draining. Two days of talking with people, being on stage, and participating in this extrovert-fest was exhausting.  Here are some steps that I took to help stay energized:

  1. Go in with the expectation that this will be a long, social day.  Get good sleep, eat breakfast, and have ready whatever your morning jolt is (a gallon of coffee for me, please!).
  2. Work with your scrum master or other team leader to enforce breaks.  With the time constraints that exist, it is very tempting to work through breaks to write “just one more story”.  Use these breaks to find some quiet space.
  3. Remember that lunch may or may not be considered a break.  Some important conversations may occur during this time.  Even if this a working hour, you can probably catch a break and be the last one in line, and excuse yourself a few minutes early before heading back to the meeting room.
  4. It might not be over until after it is over.  With coworkers coming in from out of town, there were dinners and happy hours planned at the end of those days.
  5. Finally, let your family and friends know that you might not be as social those days.  I came home exhausted and didn’t want to do much outside of lounging and sleeping.

I hope this is helpful to anyone undertaking Big Room Planning in the future!  What are your tips to successful large-scale planning sessions?


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