Scrum is empowering.
Scrum is powerful.
Scrum is a framework for learning.
Then why do we make the Daily Scrum boring and robotic?
Scrum seems to be the most common of all Agile frameworks in the world. It has changed the landscape of the modern workplace with terms such as Daily Scrum (aka the daily standup), Retrospective, Scrum Master, and Sprint. It has also shifted our thinking from a project-centric approach to a team-centric approach.
However, we are often taught a format for a given Scrum ceremony and then believe that there is only one way to carry it out. This is not true.
Let’s examine the Daily Scrum, which is also known as the daily standup. This most simple and most followed of the Scrum events/ceremonies can become stale, uninspired, lacking energy, and boring. I have seen dozens of teams perform this event as if it is a strict ceremony with specific steps and questions. From my observations, it can become painful and a chore.
The most common format of the Daily Scrum (in my experience) follows this format:
- The Scrum Master starts the Daily Scrum
- He/she gets each person to answer the three questions (what did I do yesterday?, what will I do next?, any obstacles?)
- Then he/she continues the questions through the entire team
- It ends with a thank you from the Scrum Master and a document being created/uploaded to a team shared folder
Some of the problems/weaknesses of this most common approach, include:
- It is led by the Scrum Master – feels much like a update meeting instead of an “Inspect and Adapt” event
- The three questions become stale and uninteresting
- It can feel robotic and lacks energy
- It is easy to lose interest and only pay attention when it is your turn to speak
- It can become easy to forget the key purpose of the Daily Scrum – “To synchronize activities and create a plan for the next 24 hours” from the Scrum Guide.
What can we do to improve our Daily Scrum? What improvements can we make to improve engagement?
Improve the Daily Scrum for Your Team
There are plenty of minor adjustments to major changes a team can make to turn the Daily Scrum into an event that propels the team forward, has plenty of laughter and joy, and creates excitement and anticipation for the next one.
Improving the Questions
- Shift the thinking to results. For example, what did I complete yesterday? or what obstacles will I solve next?
- Focus on pairs or triads. For example, what did I and my partner do yesterday? or what will my small group of three do next?
- Change the order of the questions. For example, start with asking about obstacles.
Shift the Focus of the Daily Scrum
- Review each of the tasks / user stories that are in progress. For example, now let’s discuss the progress made for this story.
- Walk the board. For example, move through all the tasks on the board as a team.
- Start on the right. For example, discuss each of the tasks on the board from complete to not yet started and identify changes and obstacles.
Change the Facilitation Approach
- Rotate the facilitator. For example, have another team member facilitate the Daily Scrum for a week.
- Facilitate in pairs. For example, have someone co-facilitate the event and go back and forth on which of the two asks the questions.
Adjust the Spaces
- Shift the physical location for the event. For example, sit in the cafeteria or a meeting room.
- Change the visuals. For example, use an online tool to see each of the team members contributions to the Daily Scrum.
- Make it more personal. For example, use video conferencing to see emotions and engagement.
Above are many suggestions to improve the Daily Scrum, where do I start?
Review each of the ideas/suggestions above and identify one that would be easy to implement during your next Daily Scrum. Then introduce the idea to your team and try it out as an experiment for a few days so that you and your team can begin to observe if this change made an impact to the engagement, experience, or outcome of the Daily Scrum. Some of my ideas and suggestions come from my experience of working with Agile teams and others are learned from articles and others Agile transformation agents around the world.
Further Learning and Ideas to Improve the Daily Scrum
Continue to Improve the Scrum Events
I hope that each of you continue to inspect and adapt (a Scrum pillar) your implementation of Scrum by observing the events, the artifacts, and even how the roles are being used so that your use of Scrum will become more effective, more joyful, and more fun.Warm regards,