The Daily Scrum: Keeping It Short and Sweet

Although not mandated by the Scrum framework, many Scrum Teams choose to do the Daily Scrum standing up. When I was first learning about Scrum, I took this piece of advice with a pinch of salt; how could standing up during an event really make a difference? Surely it would be ok to sit down for some of the time; I was capable of keeping the meeting short and sweet while being comfortably ensconced in my nicely padded chair wasn’t I?

But then I took part in my first Daily Scrum and I realised – it really does work. Standing around in a group really does speed things along; there’s no desire to chat or simply pass the time when you’re not sat down and comfortable. It also reminds you why you’re there, to have an economically- timed meeting that kicks off and plans the day, without any of the waffle that usually accompanies a more lethargic gathering.

The Three (optional) Questions to Answer

The idea is for the Developers to gather together, often where the work happens, in front of the Sprint Backlog, at the same place and time each day and update each other on the current state of play and progress towards the Sprint Goal.

The Scrum Guide used to (prior to 2020) suggest the following questions as a basis for the event:

  • 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?

Some Developers find these questions useful, others less so and choose to adopt a different format. The important thing is that the Developers use the Daily Scrum to check progress and create/update a plan for the next 24 hours. How the Developers ultimately does this is up to them to decide through self-management, inspection and adaption.

The Daily Scrum may kick off the day (they are usually best held in the morning to allow everyone to get up to date before starting their “real” work), to communicate with one another, to seek support where needed, to ensure everyone is focusing on the right things and to generate a an updated plan for the next 24 hours.

Who Should Attend?

All Developers must attend the Daily Scrum event. The Scrum Master may attend if facilitation is needed and the Product Owner may attend if their input will add value and not subvert the planning objective of the event.

Other stakeholders can attend if their presence does not negatively impact the Developers and prevent them from using the Daily Scrum as a short planning session. If the attendance of others negates this, then the Developers and Scrum Master must take action to address this.

A good tactic for effective Daily Scrums is to encourage autonomy by rotating the facilitator for the event; that way, the Developers take ownership of the event and do not rely on a dedicated “leader” to do it for them. The Developers should self-manage to get the most out of the Daily Scrum that they can.

How to Keep It Short and Productive

The Daily Scrum is timeboxed to 15 minutes. Keeping to this short amount of time can be challenging for teams that are new to Scrum. A facilitator (usually the Scrum Master) may be needed initially to help this happen. If there are bigger issues that need to be tackled, they can be followed up in a separate meeting at some point after the Daily Scrum is complete. The objective is to highlight any issues in this event rather than seek to solve them immediately.

What the Daily Scrum is NOT

The Daily Scrum is not a status update; it is not intended for a boss/manager/leader external to the Scrum Team to collect information about who is on schedule and who is behind. Any update of this sort, if it is really, REALLY needed, should be done away from the Daily Scrum.

The Beauty of the Daily Scrum Is…

The Daily Scrum is designed to ensure the Developers are regularly planning, communicating and working together as a true team. It should help them make decisions and plan and take action to give them the best possible chance to meet the Sprint Goal and deliver the functionality planned in the Sprint Backlog.

Done right, a Daily Scrum should give energy rather than suck it away. I’ve seen bad Daily Scrums that feel all too much like reporting sessions. I’ve also seen others that are motivating and energising. I’ve watched each Developer walk away knowing that they are part of a cohesive team, confident that they have the knowledge, backup and support to do whatever needs to be done.

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Simon Kneafsey TheScrumMaster.co.ukHi, my name is Simon Kneafsey and I am a Professional Scrum Trainer with Scrum.org & TheScrumMaster.co.uk. I am on a mission to simplify Scrum & Agile for 1 million people. I have helped 10,000+ people so far, and I can help you too. Find out more & get in touch.

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