Suggestions for a better Daily Scrum
It is my view that the main problem with doing Scrum is that we don’t “feel the music” while we do the dance. That is to say: we don’t understand the values and principles underlying the practices we are doing.
In general, this is true of all of us. Saying, “I get Scrum better than you,” is not especially useful. Still, someone has to convey, “I don’t think you are getting the values and principles well enough.”
This might start as a question, such as: “Why do we do the Daily Scrum?’
My answer: It enables the team to land the airplane more successfully at the end of the Sprint. Or, it enables the team to self-organize and self-manage and self-direct, as if they were adults.
Put another way, it enables the team to get enough visibility about everything that is going on, to identify the biggest problem(s), deal with them and then complete the Sprint successfully with all committed “stories” completed (“done, done” if you use that phrase).
Some smells or issues:
1. Reporting status to the ScrumMaster.
People often expect that it is a status meeting to one person or maybe a few people. No, we are not reporting status to any manager. You are enabling yourselves (the whole team) to be successful.
2. No one is talking about anything useful.
Sometimes people are talking and no one is listening.
Then do the “Five Whys” about the root cause of that.
3. People want to hide.
Well, it is natural to hide from pain or expected pain. Virtually 120 percent of the time the implementer has been beaten up, harassed or disrupted somewhere in his or her past, if he or she told the truth. So, naturally, it takes a long time of not getting punished before he or she believes there will be no more punishments.
Figure out how to deal with that. Talking helps.
If you ask them to tell the truth, it often feels like that requires courage.
4. Everyone says, “No impediments.”
Yeah, this happens. First, explain that we are always removing the top impediment (that is happening for your team now, right?). Then, emphasize that people themselves and their normal mistakes are not impediments. Or, maybe it’s better to say that we always expect people to make a normal number of human mistakes — that is part of being creative. Then, ask them to identify anything that is slowing the team down (sometimes they have too limited a view of what an impediment might be). Then, tell them that each person must identify his biggest impediment (and we all have a biggest one, since nothing is perfect).
5. People arriving late.
Sometimes a difficult one. First, review why you think the Daily Scrum is valuable, its purpose, stuff like that. Does that late person agree? If yes, then why is he late? Ah, he has something more important to do almost every day? Second, Does he really feel like he is a member of the team? Third. Continue like this.
Tricks. Sometimes it just takes “tricks.” The “put a $1 in a jar if you are late” trick is well known. (The team takes the money and buys donuts every so often, for example.) Or, try having the late person sing a song after the stand-up meeting — very effective for many. Or, have the person eat a pickle (in the morning). I have not done this, but I hear that a pickle tastes bad in the a.m.
Also, if a team member sends in his answers to another team member before the stand-up meeting, then he is not “late.” It could still be an issue, especially if it happens often, but let’s not call it lateness.
6. They only answer the three questions.
The three questions are only a help. The team should talk about the most important stuff in 15 minutes (maximum) to land the plane together. Especially if some Sprints have failed (not gotten all stories done) and poor daily info feels like a root cause — then explore this. There are often important things to say that are not directly covered by the three questions.
7. Have the Daily Scrum around the Scrum Board.
Finally, I strongly encourage, especially for beginning teams, to have the Daily Scrum around the Scrum Board, and to move the cards in the meeting — it is magic. (Many studies and theories explain what the magic is, but do you need to go there?) It works a lot better if the team is collocated.
Why do we have a Daily Scrum?
Well, it’s just like Fred Brooks said in “The Mythical Man-Month”:
“How does a project get one year late?”
“One day at a time.”
If we take and address the top impediment each day, we are much more effective as a team. It is more than that, but often, that is enough of an explanation.