As I mentioned in my last article, I'm new to Scrum, and the journey to implement Scrum has had its challenges and rewards. After using Scrum for a month or so, I started to see a deficiency; we weren't having productive Daily Scrums. So, I decided to go to my "office" and start a list of action items for improving our Daily Scrum.
Much like how I got my "office," I decided the best route was to incrementally introduce improvements to our Daily Scrums. You see, for the past year, there's been an empty office next to my cube. After surveying surrounding departments and rigorously analyzing the local power structure, I determined that the office was fair game, and likely to be empty for some time. So, I decided to incrementally claim the territory. First, there was the "Hang In There, Kitty" poster that I hung on the wall facing the desk that was soon to be mine. A week later, I added several stacks of papers to the desk. It was a gamble, but when a manager commented "Jeez, that guy must be busy, but at least he's staying positive," after surveying the stacks of "work" and kitty poster, I knew I was on the right track. Over the next few weeks, I added more items, a chair, a few photos, a wall calendar; only one last step remained, moving in. So, after weeks of preparation, I made my move. It was a particularly hectic day, with a lot of bustle, and I needed a place to think in peace. So, I grabbed my laptop, walked into my office, and closed the door. At first, I just sat there, staring at the laptop, terrified that someone might walk in and blow the whistle on the whole operation. My palms were sweaty, and I thought I smelled cheddar. After an hour, it was clear that my strategy had worked. By incrementally instituting the changes, I was able to convince everyone that the office was indeed mine. I decided to use the same approach with improving our Daily Scrum.
The problems with our Daily Scrums started almost immediately. While our Team was thrilled with the concept of the Sprint (especially the being left alone to work for 2 weeks part), the Daily Scrum never gained much traction. Every morning, the Team would amble in to their cubes, each with a "not before I've had my coffee" look on their faces. Ten minutes later, we would have our Daily Scrum. After an audible sigh, each member would face the manager and talk about what they did yesterday and their plans for that day. Each meeting wouldn't last more than a few minutes (we're not a big department), and afterwards, I'd hear the Team complaining about how the Daily Scrum was pointless and a waste of time.
So, my list included some incremental changes that would hopefully create a successful Daily Scrum. First, we moved it to 9 am. That way, everyone was able to get settled in, grab some coffee, but not so settled in that the meeting would disrupt work in progress. This helped remove the "bother me this early and I'll fight you" mentality.
Second, we got rid of the manager. Nothing says "progress report" more than facing your manager every day and telling them what you've been up to (a whole bunch, I swear!). Instead, I played the ScrumMaster card to insist that our manager merely observe... from her office. Suddenly, the Team was talking amongst themselves. Better yet, they were solving problems. Not only did everyone know what everyone was working on, but more importantly, they were working as a team, removing obstacles, sharing information, and getting things done.
Eventually my office plan fell through. We had a new manager start with the company and my items were returned. However, the "Hang in there Kitty" poster remains to this day, in my cube, reminding me that incremental changes can make a positive difference, with enough time and patience, of course.
Have you had difficulty making your Daily Scrum effective? If so, how did you solve the problem?