Purpose of the daily stand-up
I believe the daily stand-up is the most important meeting of all Scrum ceremonies. It is the tool that reflects the Scrum Team's level of maturity. The Daily Scrum or stand-up is intended to:
- Prepare the team for the day’s collaboration
- Help the team and product owner determine whether they will meet the sprint goal
- Find anything that is slowing down the team, and summarize the work involved in removing the impediment
This set of activities can’t be completed via email; the activities must occur face to face. The main purpose of the meeting is to be effective and encourage team collaboration.
Ultimately, if a team is struggling with the Daily Scrum in any way, this is a valid topic for discussion in the sprint retrospective. It benefits the team to be able to diagnose itself. As the ScrumMaster, you can facilitate this diagnosis through a retrospective, which is more useful than a coach telling the team what the problem is and recommending a solution.
Tips for a smoother daily stand-up
I can offer a few tips that can get at common problems and help the team as it thinks through it own diagnosis.
Change the focus of the questions
If a team member complains that the Daily Scrum is a waste of time (or that it's a status meeting or an opportunity for micromanagement), remind everyone of the meeting’s purpose, and then ask the whole team how they would like to reorganize the activity to achieve its purpose. Perhaps the questions being asked don’t provide the focus. In that case, change the questions. Use the active verb achieve
to restate the focus. For example, replace "What did you do yesterday?" with a much stronger question, "What did you achieve
yesterday?" The one word achieve
places the focus on what each member has accomplished and reminds the team that the most important aspect is delivering value.
Use the Daily Scrum to make commitments
Your team might say that the stand-up has turned into a status-reporting meeting. Ask them how to make it about them, and the work, instead. By focusing on what each person accomplished yesterday and will accomplish today, the team gains a deeper understanding of what work has been done and what work remains. They are correct that the Daily Scrum is not a status update meeting in which a manager collects information about who is behind schedule. Rather, it is a meeting in which team members make commitments to each other.
Focus on one backlog item at a time
The vast majority of teams conduct the Daily Scrum by having each team member answer the three common questions in order. You answer all three, then the next team member answers, and the next, and so on. An interesting alternative that some teams find helpful is to talk through one product backlog item before moving on to the next. In this way, an individual may give an update at multiple times (about different items each time) during the same meeting.
Establish meeting norms
If the team shows up late or is disengaged by checking emails or using their phones, set daily stand-up norms that the team can collectively agree on.
A few examples:
- One conversation at a time
- Start and finish on time
- No use of electronics
These are common tips that can help your team begin their own analysis and improvement of the all-important Daily Scrum.