How to Facilitate an Agile Working Session

There are times when a team needs a half day, a whole day, or even 3-day working session to get through certain topics to reach a goal.  If you are facilitating this, why not try an Agile working session?

When a group of people gather for a large amount of time, we want to make the working session as efficient and relevant as possible.  Using concepts from Scrum, you can create a truly effective and engaging session.  Here are some guidelines and tips for running a working session in an Agile way.

Preparing for an Agile Working Session

Materials Required:

A wall, whiteboard, or easel pad

Sticky Notes
Note: 4″ x 4″ pads work best


To Do:

  1. Have a list of agenda items and/or topics. You can start with your own and also ask the group what they want to talk about.  Agile Board To DoTip: Sometimes sending a survey with topics and having people vote can also help prioritize topics.
  2. Prepare a few slides on the purpose of the working session and intended outcome.
  3. Try to outline the agenda items and timing around them. Remember to include breaks, meals, and time to regroup or summarize.  Also, have time in the beginning for introductions, goals, and ground rules.
  4. Write each topic on a sticky note and create an Agile board of ‘To Do,’ ‘In Progress,’ and ‘Done.’
  5. All topics should be in the ‘To Do’ column of the Agile board.

During the Agile Working Session

  1. Make sure your Agile board is ready.
  2. Start the meeting with introductions and discuss ground rules and goals.
    • Ground Rules – These are guidelines for the meeting such as:
      • Be open
      • Participate
      • If a topic and/or question has been discussed for more than 5 minutes, then we’ll add it to the parking lot
      • Tip: It’s good practice to ask the group to see if they have more ground rules to add. Another way is to have the group write additional rules on post-it notes and place them on the wall.
    • Goals
      • This should be the agreed upon outcome(s) for the meeting
      • Tip: It may be a good exercise for everyone to write down on post-it notes what their goals are and post them on the wall. This way everyone can participate.
  3. Running the meeting in an Agile fashion
    • With each topic on its own sticky note, pick one note and let the group know this is the topic being discussed and put it into the ‘In Progress’ column.Agile Board In Progress
    • As a group, agree that the topic is ‘Done’ when everyone gives a thumbs-up which means that the topic has been discussed to satisfaction. If there is a thumbs down or thumbs sideways, then the topic still needs to be discussed or there are additional questions.  Tip: If a topic has been discussed for more than the allotted time, consider putting the topic into the parking lot.
    • Put the topic in the ‘Done’ column when you get thumbs-up from everyone.
    • Go through each topic in this manner.  Tip: Add stickies for Breaks and Meals. Agile Board Done
  4. At the end of the working session, thank everyone for coming and for the progress made. Recap the topics and parking lot items.  Capture action items, owners, and ETA.
  5. Go out and celebrate!

After the Agile Working Session

  1. Send out meeting notes. Tip: Sometimes it’s good to designate someone to take notes during each topic and possibly rotate note-taking responsibility.  Usually, it is not a good idea for the facilitator to be the note-taker as well.
  2. Create action items and start following up with owners.


When using Agile for a working session, it engages everyone and ensures participation.  By seeing all the topics discussed, the group will feel quite an accomplishment. You will also see a more lively meeting with a more effective outcome.

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