Daily fuckup during your Daily Scrum

Over the years I’ve had the pleasure to facilitate many different teams. One of the many things I’ve noticed is that all teams ‘do’ their Daily Scrum just a little different. To be fair, since I’ve started working with Scrum there have been some nuanced changes, revisions in the official Scrum Guide. Still many teams seem to struggle with the effectiveness or efficiency of their Daily Scrum. What makes an at glance simple Scrum ceremony perhaps the hardest to tackle?

Stand-up, huddle, day start, Daily Scrum, ..

What’s in a name right? Well a lot of misconceptions and assumptions actually. I know, I know, we used to call it a stand-up. Which immediately leads to a common misconception. There is no need to actually stand guys. Sure, admittedly, doing any meeting standing up will usually help to speed things up because no one likes standing around for a long time. But I’ve been with Teams who do their Daily Scrum sitting down. Or even planking. I’ve also worked with teams where everyone was in different locations so you only saw each other via video call. Find what works for you.

So, what did you do yesterday?

Another thing that sort of changed over the years is that the Daily Scrum used to focus on getting answers to 3 questions: what did you do yesterday, what are you going to do today and did you encounter any impediments. Which always made a stand-up super awkward. Because the focus appeared to be accountability. I’ve even worked with teams in full Agile transitioning where one or several colleagues refused to contribute to the daily stand-up because they felt micro-managed for being obligated to tell a group of people every day what they spent their time on. I get it.

The daily as an energy drain

Crap you guys, it’s 9am we have to do the stand-up. Suddenly everyone faces me and one by one recites (either by heart or looking at a cheat sheet) what they did yesterday, what they plan to do today and if they encountered any impediments or need any help.

Don’t you just feel the energy draining out of you when you read that? And I’ll kick your ass (kindly of course) every time I join any daily that resembles that. No really, if you have a Scrum Master who still coaches the Daily Scrum solely around those 3 questions please fire him or her today!

Daily Scrum for everybody

Also, because of the nature of those 3 questions I’ve seen the daily being adapted in many different surroundings. I’ve been involved in senior management meetings where managers would start out their weekly meeting with a stand-up like work form. The Daily Scrum has been altered by some to become a tool for a group of people to give each other a quick update on what they had been working on and what they saw coming their way in the near future.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that you are looking for something to help your team members’ tune in with each other. But let’s get 2 things straight. First, adapting a Scrum ceremony does not mean you are now ‘doing Scrum’, nor that you ‘are Agile’. Secondly, please remember that a Daily Scrum helps a team that works together to successfully accomplish their commitment to a (set of) goal(s), not a team that has the same manager or the same organizational goals.

Daily Scrum for committed Development Teams

By now you probably understand why we (us Agile folk) call it a Daily Scrum. Every single day the Development Team has a Sprint within a Sprint where they review (inspect progress thus far) and plan (adapt or re-plan if needed) and they do this as transparently as possible.

‘The Development Team uses the Daily Scrum to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and to inspect how progress is trending toward completing the work in the Sprint Backlog. (..) Every day, the Development Team should understand how it intends to work together as a self-organizing team to accomplish the Sprint Goal and create the anticipated Increment by the end of the Sprint.’ (Scrum.org)

How to have the best Daily Scrum

Whether you are working in a Development Team or if you are using an adapted form of the Daily Scrum, here are a few general pointers that perhaps apply to all situations.

  • Make it visual! Make sure you are near your Scrum Board/ Planning Board or anything similar (digital or physical). Visual management in a transparent way will help any team. Make the planning on the board the absolute truth.
  • Talk to each other! Use this ceremony to talk to your team members. Share unexpected events for relate to your work or ask for help. Put focus of this one question: are you, as a team, on track?
  • Take it offline! Detailed discussion on content, possible re-planning of work or specific questions should all be handled offline as we say, so after the Daily Scrum with those concerned.
  • Timebox! Timebox this ceremony as you would any other meeting. And don’t be afraid to speak up if someone is going off script and you feel that this is not the absolute best way to spend your time.

Have a great Daily Scrum everyone!