Wasting your time in the Scrum theatre. Part II: Daily Scrum
Executive summary: The Daily Scrum can easily become 15 minutes of daily distraction and waste. “I have done X yesterday. I will continue doing it today. No impediments.” does not cut it, really.
Also known as the Daily Standup, it is sometimes almost as fun as the comedic genre. This is the ultimate collaborative forum for Development Team members during the Sprint; the time to reach out for assistance and to offer a helping hand to other team members. Even though collaboration and helping each other should happen throughout the Sprint, the Daily is a great way to introduce a new Team to these tenets of the Scrum ways of working.
Just like in Sprint Planning II., the team members should leave the Daily knowing what they will do, with whom, and roughly how for the coming few days (at least until the next Daily). Also, team members should identify opportunities for collaboration, other team members in need of assistance, risks, roadblocks and actions to tackle them. This is where rolled planning happens in Scrum, driven entirely by the Delivery Team.
The Scrum Master has an essential part in teaching the team to focus and keep the Daily within its 15-minutes time box, otherwise, it will easily get out of hand without concluding in any tangible outcome. If a mature team is unable to reach the above goals of the Daily within the time box , it’s a sign of a team too big.
When you hear this, be suspicious
“I have done X yesterday. I will continue doing X today. No impediments.”
Do not get caught up in answering the three questions written in the Scrum Guide. It’s just one way of doing the Daily, and it doesn’t even grant you success if you don’t focus on achieving the goals of the Daily. “I have done X yesterday. I will continue doing X today. No impediments.” does not cut it, really
“What shall we do now, that the Daily is over?”
Make sure the rolling planning gets rolling. If team members don’t know what they will do, with whom, and roughly how, you have a problem
“Let’s make it 10 minutes longer, so everybody can speak.”
Keep the Daily within the 15-minutes time box. Discuss, decide, move on. It is neither a storytelling contest nor is it about minor details. If you feel the urge to showing off your team mates how fantastic you are and how much you can deliver in a day, then you shall work on your team player abilities. If you work closely with them, they know your merits already, so don’t waste their time. Only tell what they need to know in order to be able to help you
“Let’s start the Daily Navel-gazing!”
Team members should not only identify impediments and opportunities for collaboration, but they also must formulate actions on the next step for each identified topic. Sometimes it’s as simple as agreeing on staying after the Daily to discuss how to move on
“I just jumped in to give this highly important new requirement to you, to be finished by the end of the Sprint”
The Daily is absolutely no forum for arbitrary stakeholders to throw requests on the Delivery Team. On the contrary, this is when focus on the Sprint Goal and Sprint Backlog is deliberately regained by the Team
If the team reached a high level of maturity, no PO, Scrum Master, or external stakeholder is needed in the Daily. They should be there only occasionally when the Delivery Team decides it actually would help them in figuring out how to reach the Sprint Goal and deliver the Sprint Backlog Items. In this case, the team members can invite the ones they need to talk to. The Product Owner can join the Event every now and then, but only to answer questions or to arrange the touchpoints with the Delivery Team (e.g. a common Refinement or a PO review) and not to monitor or direct the team in any way. The Scrum Master should only occasionally join to pick up the team health signals needed for proper team coaching.
Links to the other parts of the series:
Part IV. – Sprint Retrospective