5 Traps to Avoid in Daily Scrum/Stand-up Meetings

Bring Back Focus and Get the Best out of the Daily Scrum

26 August 2013


 
While Agile and Scrum have revolutionized the whole of the IT industry, most companies are either already into Agile or are inching closer to Agile methods. The stark reality is that most still consider it an iterative form of Waterfall rather than accepting the radically different practices of Agile.
 
One of the interesting and most useful practices is the daily Scrum/stand-up meeting held by an Agile team, when the ScrumMaster supports collaboration among the team members. However, there are some typical traps that Agile teams fall into. Here are the ones to avoid:
  1. Going into typical meeting mode. In typical meeting mode, the team moves away from the format of the stand-up meeting and starts to discuss things randomly. The meeting becomes status reporting rather than progress reporting. This can remove the focus for the entire team, which fixes on one or two important activities rather than on the goal at hand. It is extremely important that the complete team is focused on what everyone is doing across the team, to understand the dynamics and be aware of the direction the complete group is heading toward.
  2. Discussing everything now. Often a person brings a point to the group and it breaks into a conversation among two to three people. It is of importance to complete that conversation, but it's most important that, if necessary, the conversation be taken off line for proper discussion. Even if the point impacts the complete team, a separate meeting to discuss that point is needed. Daily stand-up meetings should not be used to discuss any one such point -- focus on progress reporting is of paramount importance.
  3. Canceling the meeting as if it is not needed. Another typical thing that happens is that during times when the team is too busy or not loaded too much, some teams decide to cancel the meeting to save time. Or they fall into this trap if the ScrumMaster isn't around. Never cancel the meeting. If there is little to discuss, close it earlier. The meeting is not held to report to anyone (including the ScrumMaster) but to keep the team's self-organization and focus going. Discipline and practice are keys for an Agile team.
  4. "They don't need to know." A lot of times the ScrumMaster assumes that the team is focuses on the work at hand, and therefore he or she keeps information about new developments on the client side, or information that client has been conveying, from the team. This is fatal. It's important that this information be relayed to the team so that everyone is in the loop. Keeping in close touch with the client and his world adds to the entire Scrum team's success.
  5. "Let me just talk to the client." Another myth or misconception is in evidence when the ScrumMaster or project manager tries to take things from the team directly to the client, not involving the team. It is of super importance that the team is brought closer to the client. This is one of the unique and most important attributes of an Agile team in terms of collaboration and openness. It helps in multiple ways to engage with the client, and hence this tendency should be avoided.

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