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Seann Hicks

Agile Scientist and Software Developer

The Daily Scrum Meeting

The Daily Scrum is a key ceremony in the Agile Scrum Framework. I would argue, the most impactful ceremony. In this post I explain what the Daily Scrum is and how to boost its effectiveness.

Seann Hicks

4 minute read

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What is a Scrum Meeting

The Daily Scrum meeting is one of the key agile ceremonies for the delivery team. It happens every work day, preferably in the morning before the day starts. It is a quick 15 minute “scrum” where the team collaborates their work plan for the day. The standard daily scrum agenda is to have each attendee answer the following questions:

Scrum Meeting Agenda

  • What did you accomplish yesterday
  • What are you planning on accomplishing today
  • What obstacles or impediments are blocking work

This simple agenda is a good way to get started with the Daily Scrum but it is important for the team to understand that the true purpose of the daily scrum is to collaboratively come up with a plan for the day and to commit to it. Agile encourages self directed teams, and the daily scrum is a great opportunity for the team to exercise this cooperative mindset.

As a Scrum Master, I recommend starting teams with the standard agenda and facilitating by keeping the discussion focused and quick. The 15 minute time box is important. Remember, the daily scrum is a formal communication point, but the team should be communicating throughout the day.

How to Run a Scrum Meeting

Before the daily scrums start, lay out how the daily scrum works and set some ground rules or working agreements. Scrum is about getting things done, and uses time boxes to encourage focus. Treat the daily scrum time limit as a time box. Give guidance using examples of what a team member might say in the daily scrum, and encourage the team to talk to each other, instead of providing an update to the Scrum Master.

The daily scrum is not a status meeting, it is a planning workshop where the team is helping each other to get work items completed.

Team Maturity Level

If the team is completely new to Scrum the Scrum Master will need to prompt team members. If the team is physically in the same space, gather in a circle. Stand for the meeting - standing creates a sense of quick conversation. Sitting down tends to cause meetings to draw out. If there are remote team members, call upon them specifically and prompt them to speak to the agenda. “Hey , what did you accomplish yesterday, and what is your plan for today”; this prompting helps keep the focus.

Everyone should have a fair chance to speak in the scrum. As Scrum Master, you will likely need to keep track of the time that each team member is using in the scrum and interrupt if a long discussion starts.

The Scrum Master ensures that the development team has the meeting, but the Development Team is responsible for conducting the Daily Scrum. The Scrum Master teaches the Development Team to keep the Daily Scrum within the 15-minute time-box. (Scrum.org)

Daily Scrum Meeting Dysfunctions

Disengagement

Team members should be paying attention to each others planned work for the day. If the team is asking questions, offering help, adjusting their work plans unblock other team members, the daily scrum is working. If team members are providing updates to one person, like the Scrum Master, or a senior person, there is an issue here. This is something to discuss in the retrospective.

Long Meetings

If the daily scrum is lasting more than 15 minutes, there could be a number of different reasons for this:

  • The team is too big. A 12 member team only gets a minute each to speak
  • Team members are going off topic and using the meeting for solution discussion
  • The Sprint Plan is not well defined, sprint planning discussion is bleeding into the Daily Scrum
  • Team members are sharing too much detail about their day

Poor Attendance

Before you start the daily scrums, get the team together to agree on a time of day for the daily scrum. If the morning is difficult, and afternoon meeting works too. Ensuring attendance is more important then the meeting time. If the previous two dysfunctions of disengagement and meeting length are in control then people might just be too busy with other non-project related priorities. If this is the case, your company might be taking on too many projects, or individuals are over allocated.

Summary

The Daily Scrum is not a status meeting. It is a people focused meeting and not a task focused meeting. Team members with a good understanding of the sprint commitment and priority and the Project Definition of Done have a good idea of the next most important thing to work on. The Daily Scrum encourages active team members who take ownership of their work. The Daily Scrum people focus encourages this by empowering team members to plan their work for the day. As the team matures, the standard agenda can be dropped in favour of cooperative daily planning approach.

Sources Cited

What is a Daily Scrum? Scrum.org

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I believe Agile Iteration is about validating assumptions and optimizing to meet business goals.