We do Scrum, but…

“ The Daily Scrum? Why daily?”

Are you serious? — episode 14

When people tell me they hate the daily routine of the Daily Scrum then alarm bells go off in my head. Because why would someone hate an activity that only costs them 15 minutes a day?

Well there are plenty of reasons:

  • The Daily Scrum doesn’t start in time.
  • People arrive when the meeting already is ongoing, disturbing the others.
  • The Daily Scrum takes far longer than 15 minutes.
  • Everyone only focuses on what they did yesterday and what they are going to do today. It’s a horror to have to answer the three questions without anyone being interested in what you say/listening to what you say.
  • At the end of the meeting no-one leaves the space with more information than when they entered it.
  • People talk in code, like ticket numbers. Only the person that uses the code language knows what it is about. And no-one seems to be bothered about this.
  • Topics are discussed into detail. Only a fraction of the team is interested, the rest is wasting his/her time.
  • People that aren’t part of the Scrum Team are actively engaged in the Daily Scrum.
  • The Scrum Master uses the Daily Scrum to assign work to individuals.

And there are plenty more. A lot of things can go wrong in such a short time. Is it then any wonder that people wish to reduce the frequency of this meeting or even skip it altogether?

So why Scrum daily?

It all starts with understanding WHY a Daily Scrum exists, which boils down to the following, the foundation of Scrum:

“Scrum is founded on empirical process control theory, or empiricism. Empiricism asserts that knowledge comes from experience and making decisions based on what is known. Scrum employs an iterative, incremental approach to optimize predictability and control risk. Three pillars uphold every implementation of empirical process control: transparency, inspection, and adaptation.” — SG

Looking at the Daily Scrum this means that you wish to assess how the activities you performed and the insights you gained in the previous 24 hours impact the Sprint Goal and the Sprint Backlog.

This is how it breaks down when you take the pillars of empiricism into account:

Transparency

  • Everyone knows the Sprint Goal.
  • Everyone knows the latest version of the Sprint Backlog.
  • Members of the Development Team share what they did or learned that helped meeting the Sprint Goal.
  • Members of the Development Team bring forward possible developments that can be an impediment for meeting the Sprint Goal.

Inspection

  • Based on the input the Development Team inspects how the Sprint Goal is impacted.

Adaptation

  • Based on the findings from the inspection the Development Team plans for the next 24 hours.
  • Based on the findings from the inspection the Development Team decides if and how the Sprint Backlog is adjusted in order to still be able to meet the Sprint Goal.

It is very important that everyone understands this. This understanding is THE prerequisite for a successful Daily Scrum. It will help to bring focus to the Daily Scrum. This should suffice to get rid of the boring status updates where no-one is really interested in what another person has to say.

Starting too late, individuals arriving too late

The topic of not respecting the starting time of the Daily Scrum has a relationship with the Scrum Values: commitment, courage, focus, openness and respect. Every individual should commit to the goals of the Scrum Team, should have focus and respect. Being too late at the meeting is a sign that there’s something off.

It may be a symptom of a larger problem that is affecting the team as a whole: does the team have clear working agreements? A team could agree upon guidelines on how to best work together. For the topic of meetings this can include things like:

  • The team agrees to always be on time for the Scrum Events.
  • The team makes sure that events always start on time.

Taking too long

A Daily Scrum doesn’t have to take 15 minutes. If everything is clear it can take less than 15 minutes. A Daily Scrum that drags on can be a sign that:

  • There is a lack of alignment and cooperation during the day. The team might want to reflect on how to improve this.
  • The Sprint Goal is not clear, as a result the discussion is all over the place.
  • The team discusses topics that are not directly related to the Sprint Goal. These are not intended for the Daily Scrum.
  • The team is diving into too much detail. The Scrum Guide is clear that this should be done differently:
“The Development Team or team members often meet immediately after the Daily Scrum for detailed discussions, or to adapt, or replan, the rest of the Sprint’s work.” — SG

Keep detailed discussions out of the Daily Scrum. Best do it after the Daily Scrum with the people that are required to take part in the discussion.

Scrum Master setting the tone, stakeholders outside of the team talking

It helps to understand what the Daily Scrum is for:

“The Daily Scrum is a 15-minute time-boxed event for the Development Team.” — SG

And

“At it, the Development Team plans work for the next 24 hours.” — SG

And, to remind us all who is in charge:

They (The Development Team — WJA) are self-organizing. No one (not even the Scrum Master) tells the Development Team how to turn Product Backlog into Increments of potentially releasable functionality” — SG
The Daily Scrum is for the self-organizing Development Team to determine if they are on track to meet the Sprint Goal and what measures need to be taken to stay or get back on track.

This doesn’t mean that people outside of the Development Team aren’t allowed to be present at the Daily Scrum. But these stakeholders are not actively participating, let alone setting the tone of the Daily Scrum. This includes the Product Owner and the Scrum Master, unless they are also part of the Development Team!

Bottom Line

The Daily Scrum is a vital part of Scrum. It serves to assess how the activities you performed and the insights you gained in the previous 24 hours impact the Sprint Goal and the Sprint Backlog. They result in a plan for the next 24 hours to move closer to the Sprint Goal.

Everyone should be aware of the purpose of the Daily Scrum. This helps to raise understanding and to get focus.

There are many anti-patterns concerning the Daily Scrum that have a serious impact on how effective this event is. It is up to the team, with the help of the Scrum Master, to reflect on this and then to improve.

Did you like the article? Then it would be awesome if you’d clap 👏🏻. I am also very keen to learn what you think about this topic.

My twitter profile is https://twitter.com/WJAgeling

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