Did you know that in original Scrum books by Ken Schwaber he talks about one of the roles of a ScrumMaster was to get enough chairs for the Daily stand up? The first pilot company also used to take significantly longer than 15 minutes also. Oh how we have evolved
If I said to you ‘The Daily Stand Up’ what words immediately pop up in your mind?
The words or phrase that pop into my mind are:
- Swarming to release value
It is so easy to forget what the key outcomes of a Daily Stand Up meeting is and get caught up in the mechanics of it.
In a nutshell we want:
- Team members to talk to each other and collaborate on the work that has been committed to.
- To understand what problems are impacting us and what any potential upcoming risks are.
- What value we need to unlock from the board.
- Whether we can complete everything still we set out too. If not, there are expectations to be managed.
Did you know your most valuable pieces of work are actually the items that are waiting to be tested and deployed? This is because we are only potentially a short stop away from benefits realisation or important feedback. As teams we need to be focusing on ‘Finishing’ things, rather than starting new work. This might even mean that developers have to test!. So a key outcome for me as an ScrumMaster is about teams swarming on getting whole items across the board and releasing the value early.
There are a number of different ways to run them. If you are in the early stages of Scrum you are quite possibly using the three questions:
- What did you do yesterday?
- What are you doing today ?
- What stands in your way?
Over time I expect teams will alter this for their needs rather than slavishly following rules.
I vary the technique depending what traits I see the team exhibiting.
- I alter the three questions to just be.
– What is everyone working on today?
– What impediments or risks have we?
– Can we still meet our commitment? Handy to have your burn down on the board to aid this conversation.
I tend to drop the ‘What did you do yesterday?’ questions as I trust that people come to work to do their best and that they are talking as a team where dependencies arise. They do not need to justify to me what they did. People shouldn’t feel as if they have to account for every minute of the day.
- Walking the board is also a great technique and useful when you have non-technical people wanting to know when their stuff is going to be done. This technique really helps with swarming. This is the practice that Kanban teaches. Typically we work from right to left looking at what it is going to take to complete this work. It is an opportunity for the team to pair together to get items over the line.
- If I have a team with lots of blockers, then I might just get the team to talk about these key items to see what we can do as a team to keep things moving.
I might vary running these meetings in different styles on a daily basis to get different information shared. You don’t have to do the same style every day.
In whatever technique you run a key thing I see happening time and time again is ScrumMasters being reported to or ‘Running the meeting’
We need to think about how we can stop this from happening, They are not there to report to you!
- Did you know that the ScrumMaster doesn’t even need to be at the Daily Stand ups? The team should be able to facilitate this for themselves and manage their impediments. Pop off for a cuppa and see if you team springs into action!
- Don’t stand in front of the board. We should be as standard facilitating from the back of the room and so the focus is not on us. If you have not heard of facilitating from the back of the room….find out!
- Don’t call out the name of the person who you want to speak. Use ‘Who’s next?’
- Use a prop such as a ball to get the teams to throw around and speak. This helps them to decide who they want next to speak. No one is looking at you either, because they are focusing on the person with the ball, and then not dropping it.
- Rotate the role of facilitator around the team, let them all have a go. I used to play ‘Spin the pen’ and if it lands on you, then you are facilitating for the day. If some people are nervous of this, then it’s a perfect coaching opportunity for you. Always ensure that you give the facilitator positive and improvement feedback.
The meetings should be in a regular heartbeat and so teams know the time and the place of the meeting as standard. The time to update the board is NOT during the meeting. People should be doing this on a regular basis throughout the day and not just saving it up. This will help you to keep it to the recommended 15 minutes per day.
Did you know you don’t have to run these in the morning? Teams can actually choose whatever time is best for them. You can even have more than one a day if you are working on critical tasks. Some teams even have them last thing in the evening so that they are set up for the day to come in and get cracking. The key is whatever ever you do the team is getting value from these sessions.
A technique that I adopt to validate this, is to ask the team members to raise their hand of they feel they are not getting value, because maybe the conversation has diverged into problem solving. This is a sure fire way to make sure that you keep things on track.
We keep the sessions to 15 minutes to promote valuable synchronization. The chances are if they are taking longer, it’s because you are problem solving or not talking about relevant items. One team I had used to take 20 minutes to complete their stand up. This was fine, because the value they got was worth the time they spent together. Try and avoid extending it out much further
If you do have lots of problem solving, then maybe your need to book 15 minutes after the Daily Stand up so the team can then brainstorm what they need to, but have a clean finish to the previous meeting.
The most powerful tools we have as ScrumMasters is observation and facilitation. Observe what you are seeing and always challenge whether we can improve the way that we work. Use your facilitation to guide the team and to help them decide and achieve for themselves what needs to be.
We are there as ScrumMasters to grease the wheels of the teams, reduce lead times, protect the values, principles and practices and to ensure that we continuously improve ways of working. Quality is also at the heart of everything we do.
So reflecting on your daily stand up meeting today, what could you do differently.
I want to thank: Nigel Baker, Geoff Watts, Bazil Arden and Alex Gooding. I asked them all what their lesser known top tips or facts were in preparation of this article and they provided their input.