The Power of Daily Scrum

If you are managing a team who needs to ‘get things done’, you sure must have come across situations where ‘things weren’t actually done’.

The reasons could be many. The key is to find them as early as possible before you find someone spending a week in ‘getting something done’ which was actually ‘not the thing which was supposed to be done’. Some examples of these reasons could be ‘I am not clear…’, ‘I am blocked…’, ‘I am confused…’, ‘Which one is a higher priority….’, ‘I need help…’, ‘I need to learn how to…’, ‘I am not feeling well…’ and it goes on and on.

I have been heading the UX Design Team at Aubergine Solutions since over 4 year now. We have been following this culture since a year and I am convinced of the power it holds when the goal is to get things done. What I say is coming out of managing a team of 4–8 people usually working on anywhere from 3–8 projects at a given point in time. Feel free to morph it to whatever flavor makes sense for your team if you wish to try this new habit. And for the sake of this article getting things done does not mean compromising the quality but rather it means that you focus your energy in the right direction and avoid wasting your time in order to work more efficiently.

Middle of the week view of our daily scrum

Without making it too long, I would like to share a few tips of executing a successful daily scrum…

  1. Do it DAILY. At the SAME TIME. NO EXCEPTIONS. Discipline is a must for a successful scrum.
  2. Do it at the SAME PLACE every day. It is necessary to feel comfortable and speed is a must. Ideally people can be on or around their desks or in a fixed same room. But the time it takes to adjust to new place should be avoided for a thing which needs to be done on a daily basis.
  3. WRITE IT DOWN in a way that everyone can see it for the entire week. This helps in reducing the task of memorizing. Everyone can refer to their backlog if they get blocked in the task on hand. It also helps in spotting tasks which are pushing to ‘tomorrow’ since a long time.
  4. PUT IT OUT THERE in front of the eyes. That thing in front of you can motivate you because it clearly shouts ‘need to do this’ and ‘we did so much’.
  5. Make sure EVERYONE attends it. This helps in knowing and understanding rest of your team members and understanding what they do instead of just working in isolation. This is needed for the spirit of the team even if two people are completely disconnected in terms of the projects they are working on. All inter dependent tasks are well planned if all people involved for a task are right there in front of you. If someone cannot attend it in person, then they should try attending virtually instead of skipping it. Most important is to gauge if one team member A is overloaded with work or is absent for some reason and another team member B is having some bandwidth and the necessary skills similar to A, then delegating some piece of work to B could help in the ultimate goal of ‘getting it done’.
  6. All team members should have done their HOMEWORK and should be clear on their daily goals before the scrum starts. There could be situations when people are not clear on this and that is totally fine, but they have to be clear after the scrum for sure.
  7. ONE AT A TIME. Start with any one team member. Go one after another. All they need to do is mention in a few words all the tasks they need to work on for today. As simple as that. If inter dependent tasks pop up, it is OK to involve the connected team members and clarify when those tasks would be completed. Someone may say ‘I do not have the bandwidth today, let us plan to sync on this tomorrow’ for example.
  8. KEEP IT UP TO 3–4 CLEAR TASKS PER PERSON. When you prepare a grocery list, it can go end less BUT as a whole it is just one task ‘buy groceries’. When you prepare your task list at work, they should not be over granular (e.g. need to share the file FinalLogo.PNG to the client) nor should they be too broad (e.g. need to work on the logo). Try to find a level of granularity that works best for your team (e.g. work on third iteration for the logo themed ‘cheerful’), giving right amount of clarity so that it does not end up making the task list too long or too short. Again, CLARITY is the key here. Ambiguous tasks lead to ambiguous output.
  9. PRIORITIZE the tasks for each individual. It is the key for team member A to finish a task in the first half of the day if team member B is depended on it and planning to work on the output of it in the later half of the same day. This also helps in picking up the next task from the list if someone is either blocked or done with a task.
  10. NO MORE THAN A MINUTE OR TWO. No body takes more than a minute or two. If it goes beyond that, jot down a task to clarify it in a separate meeting between concerned parties instead of wasting the time of the entire team.
  11. LOOK FOR BLOCKERS. It is the primary goal of a scrum to remove road blocks and take necessary actions to achieve that ASAP.
  12. RESOLVE CONFLICTS. It is paramount to resolve any misunderstandings or miscommunication that may be prevailing and hence hindering the productivity of the team members.
  13. PROVIDE OPPORTUNITY for team members to collaborate, teach and learn. For example a team member is facing a creative block, treat it as an opportunity to involve more team members and arrange for a brainstorming session. If a new team member needs help with something, request an experienced one to help out.
  14. OUTPUT of a successfully executed scrum is a CLEAR PRIORITIZED CHECKLIST OF TASKS that now everyone is ready to work on with their complete focus.

I wish a productive day to the entire time as we start the day with clear goals in mind.

If you are already following a scrum culture then we would love to hear your experience. If you have any feedback, that is welcome too. Don’t forget to like and share if you find this habit interesting.

Have a productive day!