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Is 15 Minutes Long Enough for the Daily Scrum?

17 May 2016

The daily stand-up in Scrum is a timeboxed meeting that lasts 15 minutes. People also refer to this meeting as a Daily Scrum, daily huddle, morning roll-call, and the 15-minute huddle meeting.

I often hear that 15 minutes is not enough for a daily stand-up. I believe that 15 minutes can be effective if we follow certain rules:
  • Keep the meeting on track. Keep the daily stand-up team members engaged by asking the three well-known questions:
    1. What did you do yesterday?
    2. What will you do today?
    3. Are there any impediments/blockers in your way?
    The overall progress of the project can be communicated through visual charts, like the burn-down chart or the cumulative flow diagram.
  • Avoid concurrent multiple discussions. One team member is allowed to speak at a time. When several members speak at the same time, this creates a distraction for the team.
  • Do not include problem-solving activities as part of the meeting. Some members want to solve problems immediately upon hearing about them. The team can talk about the problem or impediment, but the actual solution or detailed discussion should be held outside of daily stand-ups.
  • Prepare for the meeting. Team members should come prepared before joining the meeting. The preparation will help to finish the daily stand-up within the timebox constraint.
  • Start on time. All members should arrive on time to the meeting to avoid delays.
  • Ensure team-member participation. All team members should be present to make the meeting more effective. However, do not cancel a meeting if a team member is unavailable.
  • Avoid the "status update" mindset. The Daily Scrum is not a status update meeting for the manager or ScrumMaster; rather, it is a meeting in which team members make commitments to each other.
  • Focus on only the meeting. While a team member is talking, others should listen instead of being involved in other discussions, activities, or nonproject-related matters.
  • Do not make it a ScrumMaster-specific ceremony. The daily stand-up is not a ceremony for only the ScrumMaster; rather, it is held for the benefit of the entire team that is working collaboratively.
  • Stand up during the meeting. Standing up during Daily Scrum keeps the team engaged and encourages members to keep discussions short and to stick to the three main questions. But it's also fine if the team can manage the Daily Scrum without standing up within the time-boxed period.
  • Use a visual sprint board. Each team member should be able to view the entire sprint board and all tasks that the team is working on or has been assigned during the daily call.
  • Schedule the meeting at the same time each day. The meeting should take place at the same time and place every working day.
  • Make external participants aware of meeting norms. Sometimes a senior manager or stakeholder outside of the Scrum team joins the meeting. If these external participants are unclear about their expected behavior, they can potentially disrupt the stand-up. You can avoid this disruption by informing them of the norms early on.
  • Decide who will speak first. Team members should know who will start first, who will be next, and so on. The ScrumMaster can facilitate this order, but there should be a process so that the team can work like self-organized team. For example, the team can use a visual sprint board where tasks are listed and the order can be determined.
  • Ensure that you close the meeting. Team members may not immediately realize that the meeting is over after the last person has spoken. Hence, it is a good idea to explicitly end the meeting (e.g., "We are done with our meeting. We will meet again tomorrow.").
There is no doubt that restricting the meeting to 15 minutes keeps the discussion brisk but relevant.

Last, Agile encourages the inspect-and-adapt strategy. Therefore, anything that helps the team to manage daily stand-up can be effectively adopted by keeping the Agile principles in mind.

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.

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