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The Daily Scrum Meetings of Dynamic Teams

4 July 2017

In this article I want to emphasize the importance of the Daily Scrum meeting (stand-up meeting), making the team dynamic, and the things that make the Daily Scrum meeting productive.

Daily meetings during the sprint are critical to making the team successful. We all know this, but it’s easy for a team to get a little lazy. Our team is most successful when we follow the well-known advice and engage everyone in asking and answering the following three questions during the Daily Scrum meeting:
  • What did I do yesterday?
  • What am I going to do today?
  • Are there any problems or impediments in my way?
Most members think that the meeting is about them, but actually it’s about the team, as the sprint goal is the responsibility of the entire team. From an Agile point of view, the team must be dynamic. When we say dynamic, we mean that if one person says that he or she has worked on this task yesterday and has a problem, then the rest of the team members share their views and alternatives on how to handle that problem.

This collaboration illustrates a team's ownership of the user story. They care collectively about the team's commitment to complete the sprint goal. Also, when the next person says what he or she is planning to do and team members ask how he or she is going to complete the task, members offer to work on the tasks together so that the work is completed faster, and they can concentrate on other tasks.

So, it is all about everyone on the team discussing what they have done and are going to do, but the team collectively figures out how that’s going to help them all work quickly and effectively. Therefore, the idea of the dynamic team helping each other is important.

Often, several team members hash out a particular task for a minute or so only, to make sure that the daily stand-up is completed in 15 minutes. If a particular task discussion is taking more than a minute, the team continues the discussion in next meeting, which can be scheduled immediately or later in the day. A 30-minute collaboration meeting held between the relevant members immediately after the 15-minute Daily Scrum, or as soon thereafter as possible, often works really well to cover all the discussions in detail.

These types of dynamics — the way that meetings work — are critical. They are often stated, but many new teams need a lot of coaching to get these elements, and thus their overall meetings, right. Do not underestimate the importance of these well-known tips for a successful Daily Scrum.

Our team has tried several props that we use for effective and fun daily stand-up meetings:
  • Talking stick: Get a stick labeled the "Talking Stick" and pass it to a team member. That team member will provide his or her update and then pass the stick to another team member. The person holding the stick has all the authority to ask questions or to request the attention of another team member.
  • Dynamic ball: Get a small football or soccer ball. The team member who has the ball gives updates and then throws the ball to another team member for his or her updates. You can throw the ball to any team member at random.
  • Calling on the next person: The person who completes his daily update can call on another who can give his or her updates.
  • ScrumMaster asks fun questions after the Daily Scrum: If the team is able to complete the Daily Scrum fewer than 15 minutes, we can invest five more minutes in playing one rapid-question round as a fun activity (e.g., who is your favorite singer and why?)
We have observed that these kinds of fun activities help the team begin the day on a good note and with a positive attitude almost 90% of the time.

I appreciate your constructive comments and suggestions.

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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