Avoid Scrum Zombies : Help the team focus on the Sprint Goal with the Sprint Weather Report

Adrien Liard
May 18, 2019 · 4 min read

The Sprint Weather Report is a simple and effective way to improve your daily stand-up meetings by helping the team focus on the sprint goal.

This is an illustrated guide to show you how and why you can use the Sprint Weather Report with your own team.

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Some teams struggle to maximize the value of their Daily Scrum meetings. A common anti-pattern is Scrum Zombies : each team member takes turn and brainlessly enumerates on which task they worked the previous day and on which task they’re planning to work on for the day to come.

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The Scrum guide was updated in 2017 to clarify the purpose of the Daily Scrum and it no longer recommend that team members answer those two questions: «What have you completed yesterday?» and «What do you plan to complete today?”.

Instead the latest revision recommend to focus the discussion on progress toward the sprint goal:

The structure of the meeting is set by the Development Team and can be conducted in different ways if it focuses on progress toward the Sprint Goal. Some Development Teams will use questions, some will be more discussion based. Here is an example of what might be used:

What did I do yesterday that helped the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal?

What will I do today to help the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal?

Do I see any impediment that prevents me or the Development Team from meeting the Sprint Goal?

I recently introduced a simple and highly visual ritual to improve our daily scrums and help the team focus on the sprint goal: I call it the Sprint Weather Report.

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At the beginning of each of our daily scrum each member of the team is asked how confident they are in our ability to achieve our sprint goal.

A simple scale is used :

  • Sunny: highly confident in our ability to achieve the sprint goal.
  • Cloudy: pretty confident but there’s some risks and uncertainties.
  • Rain: achieving our sprint goal will be hard.
  • Thunderstorm : No way, our sprint goal is in high danger.
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Most of the time team members vote when they arrive in the morning using a matrix next to our board. We quickly aggregate the votes and then we stick a small icon representing today’s forecast. This weather report is then used as an input to start the discussion: how can we adapt our plan to improve tomorrow’s weather report? In other words: what can we do to maximize our chance to achieve our goal?

We keep track of the previous days forecasts as well, this way we are able to check if our actions improved the team’s confidence or if the situation is getting worse.

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By introducing this simple ritual we improved our ability to focus on the sprint goal and each daily meeting is a real opportunity to inspect and adapt our plan.

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At the beginning of the sprint, during the sprint planning meeting we establish a plan to build a specific increment of our product: this product increment purpose is our goal.

But the beginning of the sprint is also the moment when our knowledge is at his lowest point. Each day in the sprint we discover things: hidden complexities, nasty and unexpected bugs… This is why we need to update our plan daily: we gain knowledge and then inspect and improve our plan on a daily basis.

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The Sprint Weather Report is a fun and easy way to improve your daily stand-ups. It can also be used as an input for the sprint retrospective: the weather reports history is a nice memory enabler. The team can remember and reflect on the actions taken during the sprint to improve the weather and try to learn from the sprint successes and failures.

Here’s the complete drawing (made using Procreate on an IPad Pro 12’9). Let me know if you try this with your team!

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Adrien Liard

Written by

Formal sociology student turned software developper turned scrum master. Passionate about helping teams succeed. Father of twins

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +773K people. Follow to join our community.

Adrien Liard

Written by

Formal sociology student turned software developper turned scrum master. Passionate about helping teams succeed. Father of twins

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +773K people. Follow to join our community.

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