Daily Scrum Is Not A Status Meeting

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‘I did this, I will do this, I have/have no impediment’. OK, next, ‘I did this, I will do this, I have/have no impediment’. OK, next……and the ‘STATUS’ meeting continues until all are done. Sounds familiar, right??? It is very common to see daily scrum being run as status meeting, as if the entire team is reporting to the Scrum Master. The 15 min timebox event is meant to synchronize the team’s work and plan for the next 24 hrs and not as a status meeting. May be this has got to do with the way the daily scrum is structured which requires the team members answer those 3 questions. It is interesting to see how the daily scrum goes when the Scrum Master is not present. 

Daily Scrum is one of the important ‘Inspect and Adapt’ events of Scrum wherein the team inspects its progress of achieving the sprint goal, any impediments in the progress and adapt if the plan will change. A good practice is to do this as a self-organized team collaborating with each other instead of waiting for someone’s direction. Initially, some guidance may be OK, but ultimately the team should be able to figure out its own ways of creating incremental, valuable and quality product. Through daily scrum, team members make commitment to each other about what he or she will try to accomplish by the next daily scrum and are there any obstacles. Just to re-iterate the fact that the daily scrum is about the plan for next 24 hrs. and not the whole sprint.

Good daily scrums requires discipline, especially when the teams are new to agile. Some good practices that can be adopted are:

  1. Start and end daily scrums on time, preferably use same place
  2. Use physical scrum board when possible as it is a good, visible information radiator tool, especially when teams are co-located
  3. While it is a common practice to see one person talk after another and so on, some teams find it useful to talk through one product backlog item (PBI) after another. The advantage is better visibility of sprint goal as the progress is tracked at PBI level and not at an individual level.
  1. While the scrum master is responsible to make sure daily scrum happens every day, it is the team that owns the process
  2. Take technical discussions offline to keep it short and to the point, may be immediately after the daily scrum
  3. No laptops and cell phones during the meeting. Concentrate, listen, focus what is being talked about. This happens when team members are talking more than required.
  4. Always come prepared for the meeting with your accomplished/not accomplished tasks of earlier day, plan for next day and any impediments
  5. Keep the task status up to date before the daily scrum, don’t make the scrum master do it for you during the meeting, bad habit!!!!
  6. Look at the burndown chart and summarize how things are moving towards sprint goal accomplishment
  7. Raise an alert if someone is talking about a task and it is not showing up on the scrum board. Ideally all your sprint tasks should be part of sprint backlog.

Watch out for these anti-patterns of Daily Scrum:

  1. Used as a status meeting as if reporting to Scrum Master
  2. Used as a problem solving or issue resolution meeting, extending beyond 15 to 20 mins
  3. Manager’s unnecessary interference while team is planning their next work day. Yes, in some teams you can find managers attending daily scrum.
  4. Getting dragged into technical discussions and storytelling about the work
  5. Scrum Master managing daily scrum, watch out for signs like: Updating scrum board, deciding who talks when, directing what to do, talking on behalf of team members
  6. Team members getting restless and waiting for the daily scrum to get over, or they use their laptops and cell phones when daily scrum goes beyond 15 min timebox,
  7. Either people not involved or interrupting when someone is talking about his/her tasks
  8. Team members not enthusiastic about going to the daily scrum, looking at it as a forced ritual rather than an opportunity to synchronize work for achieving sprint goal commitment and have fun. Something is definitely wrong here!!!

To summarize, use Daily scrum to collaborate and make commitments, seek and offer help.It is more for the team and by the team than its scrum master or manager.

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