Improving the Daily Scrum Meeting

Ahh, the Daily Scrum Meeting…  Everybody who knows Scrum knows the three questions:

  • What have you done since the last Daily Meeting?
  • What are you going to do until the next Daily Meeting? and
  • What impediments are standing in your way?

Many people are confused, and think that the Daily Scrum is “about” the three questions – it isn’t… The Daily Scrum is an inspect-and-adapt point and, like all inspect-and-adapt points, it has two parts: collecting information (inspecting) and doing something with the information (adapting).

The three questions are only about collecting information; what the Team does with the information is what’s really important. Because of this,  I think that there’s an important question missing.  I like to ask a more open-ended question that gets us even more information that the Team adapts to.  And that question is:

  • Is there anything else we need to talk about?

Once we’ve asked and answered these four questions we have some reality to deal with. How do we deal with it? Well, I hate to say it, but we have discussions – more meetings. We usually call them “Sidebar” meetings, and have them right after the Daily Meeting, don’t we?

And what types of meeting might we have? Here’s a short list:

  • Re-plan Existing Work.  The most important kind of meeting, and one that often immediately follows the Daily Meeting, is the re-planning meeting.  We need to know who needs help – and give it to them. We need to know who’s finishing something – and make sure they have more work to do. And so on…
  • Impediment Removal.  The second most common type of meeting that the Team may have after the Daily Meeting is an Impediment Removal meeting.  In this meeting the ScrumMaster works with the Team Members that have impediments in order to figure out how to remove, or bypass, them.
  • Intraspective.  The ScrumMaster may have noticed or heard something that requires an intraspective, which is a Retrospective-like meeting to  discuss a particular issue, activity, or event in order to figure out if changes in the Team’s process are in order.
  • Product-Focused Meeting.  Of course, since the Team is working on the stories, there  will be meetings like architecture discussions, design meetings, interface discussions, test design meetings, and so on.  At the Daily Meeting the people working on the Story should tell the rest of the Team about the meetings, as it is generally considered “good team behavior” to allow anybody on the Team to attend a meeting.
  • Scope Negotiation Meeting.  It is occasionally necessary to negotiate a change in scope with the Product Owner during the Sprint. This can happen either because the Team isn’t going to finish all it committed to, or because the Product Owner needs to add or change scope.

I hope this gives you some ideas about how to improve your Daily Scrum Meeting.

Good Luck!

Dan Rawsthorne, PhD, CST
Transformation Coach
dan@danube.com

Download the pdf version: Improving_Daily_Scrum_Meeting_blog

Posted in Agile
9 comments on “Improving the Daily Scrum Meeting
  1. Thanks for your post.

    You are definitely right. When I read your post I find it so obvious how sidebar meetings are the sequel to daily scrums. It is strange that “sidebar meeting” meeting concept is so unknown in the agile community.

    We always preach “No problem solving in the Daily Scrum!” to the development teams and this is correct. The strange thing is the Daily Scrum is the actually the first step in the problem solving process!

    BTW: Thanks for your presentation at Tieto (Helsinki) last week.

  2. Jarkko Viinamäki says:

    Good idea!

    It can be also useful to quickly check if there are any new/changed risks that should be taken into account and especially what to do about them. Proactive continuous risk management can help to reduce the amount of impediments.

    One other question I want to try in the next project:
    On 1-5 scale, how confident are you that we can meet the Sprint goals?


    Personally I have seen many Daily Scrums that are total waste of time (people report like: “I have been doing testing”, “Tomorrow I will continue testing”). That’s something the ScrumMaster needs to take care of.

    PS. Thanks Dan for your time, great presentation and ideas during our workshop at Tieto!

  3. Michael James says:

    I agree with Dan. I’m noticing people getting too locked into the practices and winding up with “mechanical” implementations of Scrum…. going through the motions without making the org/process/skills changes.

    –mj

  4. Sudhindra says:

    I somehow always think that Daily meetings should be held at a fixed time and held always. Having said that this becomes a hard reality to maintain if we stay far away from office. Late nights, at best avoided, become the norm towards end of a 2 week iteration. We seem to have solved this by allowing people to attend Daily Scrum via tele-call and providing the updates.

    Does anyone else have something else to share on this?

    Reminds of : Agile Manifesto : People over processes 😉

  5. Sudhindra – In the Intel Case Study (see additional reading below) the Sprints only crossed one weekend, meaning, in essence the work cadence was only say Oct 12th through Oct 23rd (12 of every 14 cal days). The remaining two days were off days to allow the teams to rest/recuperate which helped with team morale, employee churn, and the work/life balance we’re all wanting to achieve.

    I would find a way to do it in person (not via RSS feed, email, etc).

    additional reading on sustainable work cadences here: http://danube.com/docs/case_studies/Intel_case_study.pdf

  6. Sudhindra says:

    @Laszlo Szalvay
    Thanks for sharing your suggestion and the case study surely helped. IMHO, these are initiations that are required at PMO office to change the Sprint duration/cadence across teams. Can development effect/initiate this change? Afraid not unless with stealth.

    All: my primary question, about ensuring scrum meetings compliance, on time, seeks more feedback from this community.

    As always, thanks for your time and feedback.

    ps: Time permitting, do read this article which in a way relates to bottom-up (and top-down too) agile adoptions, which is what I am facing now. (see http://www.scrumalliance.org/articles/134-iterative-vs-agile&urlhash=lCtT&trk=news_discuss)

    -Sudhindra.

  7. Laszlo says:

    @Sudhindra

    I hope the trainers at Danube can make some time and respond to your question directly.

  8. Ajie says:

    Hi Dan,
    Thanks for this nice article. We figured out that standup meetings are great but needed improvement (they took a lot of time and de-focused our colleagues). Because of this we developed a SaaS tool to “automate” the daily standup meetings – with just a single email. If you like to take a look: http://www.30secondsmail.com.
    Best,
    Ajie

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