We've all heard about or taken part in daily stand-up meetings, or Daily Scrums -- many of them. We've learned these are timeboxed meetings, usually lasting 15 minutes, when the team discusses their activities and plans the day ahead.
A boring ritual? A status update? If you think of the Daily Scrum that way, you're not alone. I've read descriptions of them as "status update meetings" -- an idea I strongly oppose. The Daily Scrum is not
a status update meeting, but such descriptions do identify a common perception and reflect how the Daily Scrum is often used.
I heard a Scrum trainer explain aptly that the Daily Scrum must be used for alignment -- aligning the progress with the expectation. The better the alignment, the better the chances of delivering what is expected. So the Daily Scrum helps teams indicate their progress, identify obstacles, and notify their next action item or items.
While alignment between the product owner and the team happens in Daily Scrums and sprint reviews, alignment within
the team occurs as the individuals work together closely over a period of time. Team members become aware of each other's progress and develop a deeper understanding of the product. Thus the product evolves as the individuals work as one team.
So, given that team members are already aligned, it is quite possible that they treat the Daily Scrum as a "status update" meeting. Why then, one may ask, is the Daily Scrum even necessary?
Is the Daily Scrum really needed?
However much the teams are aligned within, there are always work items that slip through the cracks, or differences in understanding start to rise to the surface. Two gaps that commonly occur, for example, are:
- There is a difference between the product owner's expectation and the team's understanding.
- There is inadequate information about integration points with other teams.
The Daily Scrum helps plug these gaps, and do so effectively. So yes, Daily Scrums are absolutely necessary!
Make it interesting
Recently, I suggested to my team that we spend two additional minutes in the Daily Scrum. What for? So that any one who wanted to could share an interesting technology update (like this
) or a popular project (like this one
The team questioned whether we would lose focus by discussing things "outside" work. I agree that it's worth questioning; focus is good and important. Focus helps add value to the end user. But while adding value to the customer, all of us must gain knowledge, not only about the current business at hand but also about "revolutionary technologies" around us. My idea was to simply introduce new thoughts now and then. Team members interested in these ideas might find themselves discussing them during their breaks, and learn even more.
I've seen a lot of excitement in my team ever since we started this activity. Do you have ways to make the Daily Scrums interesting meetings to look forward to? Please share them!