Daily Scrum Meeting - A Quick Guide

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Daily Scrum Meeting - A Quick Guide

Jacqueline: Today’s letter is D. D is for daily scrum meeting. In the agile world, a daily scrum meeting is a 15-minute daily team meeting to share progress, report impediments, and make commitments and forecasts. The whole intent is to have these on a daily basis. When you have these touchpoint—and again, they’re only 15 minutes, so quick touchpoints—it keeps you from having a bunch of status reports and sending emails. You’re communicating face to face.

Listen to the Podcast – D is for Daily Scrum Meeting

This is at the heart of agile and the whole collaborative and face to face communication approach. The daily scrum—some of you may say that for your team, in order for everybody to have an opportunity to speak, it would take more than 15 minutes. Well, the key here is that agile teams are intended to be very small with six to eight people. That way, everyone does get to speak. If you have a much better group already, the approach and concept of daily scrums starts to deteriorate, because it’s not meant to be run like your traditional project meeting. That’s why they’re not just called meetings; they’re called a daily scrum meeting or daily standup meeting.

The reason why they’re called standup is because they’re supposed to be so short that there’s no need to sit down. Everyone on the team is required to attend; it’s mandatory. Some may have to dial in from time to time, but you want that face to face as much as possible. This is a way to kick off your day. It’s a way to set the tone. Unlike a traditional meeting that is ran by one person—for example, if a project manager called a meeting, it would be that person’s meeting, and they set the agenda and determine who talks—in the standup, everyone is treated as equals as it is on the team as a whole in agile. Everyone has their two minutes or so to speak, and basically a lot are ran by having everyone give input to three basic questions: what did you accomplish since our last standup, what do you plan to accomplish until our next standup, and what roadblocks or impediments did you run into.

Just to bump it up a notch, what people do is they take this verbatim and the standup becomes stale. It sounds like you’re talking about the same things everyday. People are getting bored, they’re wanting to skip, or they’re just mentally tuning out on what’s being said because it’s repetitious. This is where your scrum master doesn’t take control but more finds ways to make sure it stays creative and valuable. You should only be doing these ceremonies in order to show value. That doesn’t mean you cancel the standup and say, “Ok, it’s not valuable to us.” Instead, you find creative ways to ensure that it’s valuable to you. There are a lot of different sites on the web to ensure that you find creative ways to do that. There are a couple that stick out to me. One in particular: instead of just talking about what we did yesterday, what we’re going to do today, and your impediments, simply change the wording to talk about what you accomplished yesterday.

It sounds like when you just talk about what you’re doing, it’s this never-ending story. Talk about what you accomplished yesterday, what you plan to accomplish today, and ask for help or offer help. This is just a way to break down barriers and walls and take down the stigma of when a teammate needs help. Maybe it’s because of time or maybe they’re being pulled off on something else. Maybe they’re doing something that’s a stretch, or there’s a learning curve. There could be many different reasons why a teammate might need help or can offer help. By offer help, you might say, “I just finished my last task. I have some extra bandwidth today. I’m ahead of schedule. Anybody need help with anything?” That really helps to build a healthy team that everyday you can let your team know honestly where you are in your progress and in your accomplishments. Something so simple can really change the tone.

The other thing I liked and I often suggest about your daily standups or your daily scrums is doing something fun at the end of each daily scrum meeting. I had one team put all their hands in the center, almost like a football team you might see in the huddle. They had a little chant. One group changed their message for the day or their quote of the day, and a different member brought a quote for the day. In one team, someone brought a joke every Friday. Of course it had to be a clean and politically correct joke. I tell teams, “Your daily scrum meeting is setting the tone for the day, so find creative and fun ways.” If you want the day and the energy to be creative, then you start your scrum in a creative way. These are just a couple of quick tips and reminders. Teams find the daily scrum meeting valuable and necessary.

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