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Better Daily Planning Meetings

Asking the Right Questions

16 October 2013

Joe Vallone
Scaled Agile Inc.

When coaching teams and observing their daily planning (aka stand-up) meetings, I often hear the following questions:
  • What did you work on yesterday?
  • What will you work on today?
  • What is impeding your work?
Even experienced teams ask these same questions. But are these the right questions to ask in a daily planning meeting? I submit that teams that ask these questions are in need of a paradigm shift. Are the answers to these questions really what we want to hear? I doubt it.

What we really want to know is: How are we doing toward reaching our goals in this iteration? So the focus should be less on the work and more on what actually got completed. Try these questions instead:
  • What did you get done yesterday?
  • What will you get done today?
  • What is preventing you from getting work done?
In other words, the focus should be on completing work, not just doing work. It is a somewhat subtle yet important point, which has other ramifications pertaining to how we do Scrum: We need to be breaking tasks down into small enough chunks to get accomplished in a day. If our goal is to complete user stories and get them accepted every two to three days, then tasks should be one day or less in length (in ideal time). It also means that if tasks (or work) are not getting completed on a daily basis, we may have hidden impediments.

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

Article Rating

Current rating: 4.6 (7 ratings)


Phillip Stiby, CSM, 10/16/2013 2:42:22 AM
Might be worth reading the July 2013 update to the Scrum guide, the questions used in the framework have changed to:
+What did I do yesterday that helped the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal?
+What will I do today to help the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal?
+Do I see any impediment that prevents me or the Development Team from meeting the
Sprint Goal?
Joe Vallone, CSM, 10/16/2013 12:19:51 PM
I haven't read the updated guide. This is the guide from correct? In that case, I believe they call it a Daily Scrum instead of a Daily Planning Meeting.
Ricardo Gabriel Martinez Zorrero, CSP,CSM, 10/16/2013 3:58:18 PM
This is a great article, some of the main issues during a daily meeting has to do with the "nothing happened" feeling, the change in the questions help to tackle early this.
Terry Floyd, CSP,CSM, 10/17/2013 6:33:07 AM
Completely agree Joe! We have went with a similar method but we used the word "accomplished" vs. "done". It has certainly helped our teams. Thanks for sharing!
Jagannathun Manoharan, CSM, 10/17/2013 9:26:18 PM
"done" is most important and when a scrum team says "done" the PO also should have the same understanding otherwise it leads to more confusion especially Service contract model and more relevant in onshore/offshore communications
Brook Bollinger, CSM, 10/18/2013 11:05:57 AM
Be careful here. My view is you don't want teams over-focused on getting things done. The focus should be on doing good work and making progress. The last thing I want is teams doing everything they can to finish the work and feeling they have to answer for not getting something done, rather than producing quality work. Scrum isn't about getting stuff done.
Pavel Kobychev, CSM, 11/21/2013 12:50:31 AM
"Focused on the Runners, not the Baton"
This part of my favourite article about DS says it all!
For one of my teams this technique works best. And for other one, who yet did not accept this, I observe the disfunction of "I am very busy with smth (not important) which is not even on the board".
Arnold Panganiban, CSM,CSPO, 9/11/2014 12:08:53 PM
I found that article helpful. Thanks, Pavel. We were seeing similar behaviors (working on stuff that's not on the board).

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