The daily scrum is the event where the development team inspects and adapts their work plan in order to make the most progress possible towards their sprint goal each day. It is one of the most misunderstood events in the scrum framework, and often implemented ineffectively. By understanding the purpose of the event, your team can realize much more value from their daily scrum.
Often, the first thing a person learns about scrum is the traditional way to run a daily scrum. They learn the three magic questions: What tasks did I get done yesterday? What tasks will I do today? What impediments am I aware of?
What people often don’t learn is why the team holds a daily scrum. If team members don’t understand the purpose, it’s very easy for the daily scrum to devolve into a meaningless status meeting, where each team member walks away wondering why they just wasted 15 minutes of their day.
Purpose Of Daily Scrum
The purpose of daily scrum is to allow the development team to self-organize around what work should be done today. Most scrum teams work in the complex domain. This means the team’s understanding of the work emerges and changes every day. New tasks are discovered. Some work takes longer than expected. New problems, or opportunities, emerge. In order to be effective, the team needs to inspect and adapt their work plan every day.
How To Daily Scrum
There are many ways to structure your daily scrum. One approach is based on the classic three questions. Each team member shares what work they completed yesterday, and what work they believe they should contribute today. If there are any problems (impediments), those are brought to light as well, as today’s important work might be removing one of those impediments. Once every team member has shared what they believe they should contribute today, the team steps back and looks at the list of tasks that haven’t been picked up. They identify any work that is more important than the work currently slated for the day. Then they adjust their plan until the team is confident that the most important issues will be addressed.
Season makes a good case for abandoning the classic three questions entirely.
As long as you are fulfilling the purpose — making the team’s work plan for the next 24 hours — you are doing it right. Just keep it under 15 minutes.
What Else Might Happen Around The Daily Scrum?
Many teams use the time right before the daily scrum to decide which product backlog items (stories) are done. This makes sense because the daily scrum is focused on the work, often called tasks or sub-tasks. If there is a product backlog item that has no remaining tasks, then implicitly the development team believes they are done. For an item to be considered done, we really want the entire team to agree. In this way, each member of the team contributes to the decision and is accountable. We want the whole team to own the ‘done’ decision. If someone says the item isn’t done, then we’ve just discovered some remaining work. The team will likely to include that work in the plan they make at the daily scrum.
Adding or removing product backlog items from the sprint could happen just before the daily scrum. We do not want the business or the product owner to push scope change onto the team, but it’s perfectly acceptable for the team to pull a scope change from the product owner. For example, if it’s clear the team will not be able to complete all the stories they originally committed to, it’s a good idea to ask the product owner which product backlog item they would like to sacrifice. The development team can refocus their efforts on the remaining items, thus increasing the chances that those will get done. Similarly, the team might realize they will complete the last of their committed product backlog items today, and there is time left in the sprint. The developers would ask the product owner what product backlog item they should start on next.
Some teams take a daily confidence vote at their daily scrum: How confident are we that we will achieve our sprint goal? A common technique for taking the poll is a fist-to-five survey.
At the daily scrum, the development team will inspect and adapt for the sake of the sprint. They will adjust what work will be done, and by whom, in order to have the best possible outcome this sprint. The daily scrum supports self-organization and team accountability for achieving the sprint goal.
- Daily scrum description in the Scrum Guide
- Daily Scrum: The fourth question
- It’s Not Just Standing Up: Patterns for Daily Standup Meetings
- Scrum Alliance daily scrum video
- Agile Learning Labs’ daily scrum
- Extreme Standup Meetings!
Hi Chris, Thanks for the training.