It’s that time of day again, time for the daily scrum. Throughout my agile career, I have met many developers who actively despise a daily scrum meeting. Witnessing people…

That Dreaded Daily Scrum

It’s that time of day again, time for the daily scrum. Throughout my agile career, I have met many developers who actively despise a daily scrum meeting. Witnessing people disappear just before the stand-up has made me ask the question, why? What is so wrong with a quick 10 – 15-minute meeting to discuss what you are doing and what you have done? My time talking to developers has told me that a lot of them feel they do not get enough value from the event. A deeper look at the dynamics of a scrum meeting have told me that the more vocal developers can take over and the less vocal just don’t care, they can have a laissez-faire approach and just roll with what is discussed.

When I have found myself in teams suffering these issues, more often than not, the focus is on those 3 magic questions and nothing more.

  1. What did I do yesterday that helped the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal?
  2. What will I do today to help the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal?
  3. Do I see any impediment that prevents me or the Development Team from meeting the Sprint Goal?

Yes, it is important to answer these questions, but doing so in a mundane way everyday will encourage burnout and therefore defeats the point of the meeting, which is to produce a plan for the next 24 hours. In my opinion a daily scrum meeting is about what happens next, not what happened in the past.

The important thing to remember if your team suffers these issues, is that you are certainly not alone! Of the scrum teams I have experienced with these issues, they generally use these questions and only these questions to formulate the basis of every scrum meeting. I feel that when we do this it is easy for each team member to:

  • Provide un-needed information about what they did yesterday, with no real relevance to the work at hand or others within the team.
  • Become very vague about the work they are going to do today. I can almost guarantee you will hear language such as “I’ll be working on…” rather than a guarantee of a short term goal that will be completed over the next 24 hours that is relevant to the current sprint.
  • To end the meeting quicker explain they have no impediments and therefore keep problems to themselves.

Let’s sort these issues out

Whatever your name for it, be it a Scrum, daily standup, huddle it doesn’t matter. Here are 3 rules to help you fix your stale daily meetings and ensure you derive value from each and every one. Before we jump right in, I want to say its vital you are looking ahead more and not in the mirror to see what’s going on behind you. What happens next is much more important than what has already happened.

1.      Your Focus should be on the product

Simply put, if you are about to spout a monologue on why you didn’t get anything done yesterday due to meetings, don’t bother. If you are struggling to get something working, tell us that you need help and what specifically you need help with. If it is not about the product it’s self, it is not for this meeting.

2.      Make it a team thing

My recommendation is to ensure every developer has the floor to explain what the next 24 hours will look like. That is assuming things go as planned for all involved in the development team. By ensuring everyone has a voice, we all know who is struggling, where the problems are and how the team can help solve the issues together. Remember, its about agility and that involves shifting your focus from time to time to help others solve problems.

3.      Offer the hand of help

Having an impediment is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign that the team need to work together on an issue. I would encourage that as issues arise, developers suggest they pair off and work on the issue together. More often than not, a fresh set of eyes will help solve a nagging issue.

I hope this short insight has given you an idea as to how to remove the issues surrounding your daily stand-up and encourage a sense of “team” amongst the developers. At Percipience, we are specifically set-up to help our clients with every aspect of agile. From the cultural and business change through to the execution, we can manage the entire process for you. For more information on how Percipience is able to guide you on your agile journey, please get in contact.

by Peter BornerPeter is the founder and Managing Partner of Percipience llp. He is an entrepreneur and successful business leader with board level experience and senior leadership roles with global firms including Sony Music, British Telecom, Liquid Audio and Axispoint. He currently holds a non executive position on the advisory board for Rise-To and is active in the third sector with Rotary and The Rotary Foundation. His expertise includes technology diligence for M&A and advising firms on IT consolidation and migration to consumption based costing through the use of Cloud Technologies, Agile and DevOps.

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