A few tips on how to perform an effective Daily Scrum

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Everyone wants to perform an effective Daily Scrum. But, let’s be honest – it often tends to be a kind of confession. It’s a gathering of the team (which doesn’t listen carefully), the Project Manager (who wants to know when the sprint will be completed) and (sometimes) the client (who not necessarily knows what you talk about, unless he is a technical person). What’s the agenda of this kind of meetings? Why are these performed? Below, I’ll try to explain it briefly and let you know how to turn your Daily Scrum into something more than a simple “confession”.

Usually, Daily Scrum is about answering three main questions. What did you do yesterday? What will you do today? Do you see any impediments?

Is this model right? Does it have any sense? The answer is NO. Below, I’ll try to let you know why. Also, I’ll try to present an alternative.

A fairytale about the 3 questions in the Daily Scrum

It’s been accepted that you should answer the three magical questions during the daily meeting. Then you can pass the baton (or Jabra) to someone else. That’s true but it’s only a tip of an iceberg. So, what’s the actual idea of this meeting and those questions? Let’s quote the full version of the questions as per the official Scrum Guide

  1. What did I do yesterday that helped the development team meet the sprint goal?
  2. What will I do today to help the development team meet the sprint goal?
  3. Do I see any impediment that prevents me or the development team from meeting the sprint goal?

You probably noticed that the development team and the sprint goal appear in each question. Is it a coincidence? Not really.

Let’s define what you understand under the term the development team. According to the aforementioned Scrum Guide, the team consists of programmers, QA engineers (testers), designers, DevOps and anyone else involved in achieving the sprint goal. 

On the other hand, the sprint goal is about delivering all the backlog items selected for the Sprint. It means everything you agreed to deliver during pre-sprint planning. 

How to make a “proper confession” during a Daily Scrum?

Knowing what are the development team and the sprint goal, let’s answer the question – who is responsible for the final delivery? Of course – the whole development team. Either all the members deliver the sprint goal on time or not. 

That’s why it’s important that the whole team is able to set at what point of implementation of the particular tasks they are and how far they are from achieving the current goal. 

Here, we reach the conclusion that your saying performed during the Daily Scrum should be as far from “confession” as possible. You should rather avoid statements like “Yesterday, I’ve done JIRA-404 task, today I’ll do JIRA-500. I see no blockers, thanks”. It should rather be more detailed and more functionality-focused. Also from the business perspective. Thanks to that, the other developers will know exactly what do you do and once any doubt appears – you are at least on the same page and ready to discuss it. 

Disclaimer: it’s better to have those long talks after Daily Scrum itself to make sure only the involved ones are present. Again, Scrum Guide mentions this: “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”. 

Additionally, I think that the meeting should be used for knowledge exchange. It doesn’t have to be only Backlog-related. It may also relate to the technical aspects, such as the new solutions within a project. Of course – daily is a good flashpoint of those talks and you should rather continue after the Daily Scrum. 

15 minutes of a regular Daily should be used in the best way you can to exchange the information. At the same time – you should remember that it doesn’t have to be certain 15 minutes. Feel free to finish it whenever you find it suitable even after a few minutes if you run out of the topics to discuss. 

Read also: Why do you need the Project Manager in Agile?

Some tips from the Scrum Master

So, now you know that it’s good to perform detailed Dailies and try to cover as many valuable topics as possible and squeeze it within about 15 minutes. Now, I’ll share some tips, based on my daily practices:

  • before Daily Scrum, it’s good to write down a “cheat sheet” to make sure that once you’re asked to speak, your statement will be clear and fluent,
  • it’s worth remembering that Daily main purpose is to update each other on the status of the tasks; any other discussions about the details of implementation should take place after the meeting; you should set a clear border for those two separate subjects and only sneak peek the implementation topics briefly,
  • respect is the key, so obviously you should be kind for each other; whenever any of team members talk – do not interrupt them, you should wait until they finish and after that you can ask any questions you may have or add anything to their statement,
  • last but no least – apparent triviality which is really important: do not be late for the meeting – it’s all about the respect and time savings as well as the team morale. 

Read also: 5 secrets of a Project Manager to improve your work with developers

Summary

I hope that this brief overview of the idea of Daily Scrum and presentation of some of the good practices can change your way of thinking about this everyday meeting. I think that changing some of your habits and sharing responsibility by all the team members may be helpful. Feel free to try it and you will be able to answer the question whether you get more value from those meetings.

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