In this article, I present how I used an inspiring idea from a Scrum Alliance®
Coaches' Clinic to reduce the time for a team's Daily Scrum.
The team size for one of our Agile web application development projects was 14 members. The team included the project manager (yes, you read it right — the project manager) and a technical architect. The team had been following all Agile ceremonies religiously. Initially, during the first two to three sprints, the Daily Scrum ran exactly 15 minutes long, even though the team was big. But as the iterations progressed, the global application that the team was developing required a lot of interaction among team members during the Daily Scrum, which made the ceremony stretch and sometimes even continue for as long as 45 minutes. All team members were aware of the timebox for the Daily Scrum, but because of the number of interactions, they could not strictly enforce it.
During the subsequent retrospective session, everyone on the team complained about the time consumption of the Daily Scrum. The team tried a different approach: instead of standing and doing the Daily Scrum, they sat in their chairs and called it the Daily Sit-up
. However, this did not reduce the time significantly, and they were back to square one.
The Information Radiator solution
The team's ScrumMaster approached me and asked what could be done, as he wanted the Daily Scrum to finish in 15 minutes. I took a couple of days to reply. While I was thinking, I remembered how the Scrum Alliance Coaches' Clinic is run. If you have seen one, or participated in one, you'll recognize the Information Radiator illustrated below from a previous Scrum Gathering. At a clinic, an Information Radiator
was set up, which showed the time slots available for aspirants to meet with available coaches for advice.
That's when I came up with Interaction Reflectors
, as shown below. The name Interaction Reflector was inspired by Information Radiator. Team members add the interactions they want with other team members in the respective time slots for the day. By the end of the day, all interactions must be completed within their time slots. The ScrumMaster clears the board at the end of the day, except for the last column, which is for the onsite team in the U.S.
The Daily Scrum was held at 12:30 p.m. Therefore, the slots were planned carefully to encourage interactions before the Daily Scrum. As a result, there were almost no discussions during the Daily Scrum. That's why the column for the 12:00 p.m. time slot was wider than the others. The last column was reserved for interactions with the onsite teams.
When a time slot was not available, the team improvised and added another slot, like the one illustrated below. Observe the one item in the 4:00 p.m. time slot that indicates an interaction at 6:00 p.m.
Because we have implemented the Interaction Reflector, the Daily Scrum is now only 15 minutes long.