Let’s keep this short and sweet, shall we?
The textbook daily scrum
I noticed that the “Did this, will do that, and this bothers me” format may have some seriously annoying effects on the participants. While the level of agile maturity, team composition and culture in your company are important factors here, I believe this issue to be rather common.
Have you ever observed any of the following?
- Turning the brains off
The slightly introverted member of your team is about to give his daily scrum “speech”. You can tell the tension is killing him. He stopped listening 5 minutes ago and has been evidently rehearsing in his head. Imagine if this happens to everyone.
- Embracing the “I” attitude
I try to encourage teamwork and cooperation in the teams I work with. The “I,I,I” format is not helping me with this.
- Difficulties with priority tracking and focus
I make a lot of fuss around priorities, this needs to be said. I like to build the mindset that everything can and SHOULD be prioritised.
There is one simple trick that addresses all this and it is beyond easy for the team to adopt it too!
(This is starting to sound like one of those bad ads on the internet, doesn’t it?… Scrum masters hate him… 🙂 )
Forget taking turns and talking about “I did this and that”. Instead, gather around the sprint backlog and start at the top, discussing progress on the PRIORITIES, one at the time! Don’t worry, your team members will still get to talk about all the cool things they did, but this time around, it will be all focused on giving a clear picture of the delivery of the team, not an individual contribution.
You might need to encourage the discussion at first, so help them move through the list by asking questions.
“What is the progress, how are we doing, who is working on this, are we still on track, are there any blockers?…” , “Thank you, what’s next?“
They will get used to it very quickly.
When you run out of priorities to talk about, don’t forget to ask: “What else is happening?”. Otherwise, anything not planned and visualized will fall through the cracks.
Some of the cool things that I experienced after switching to this:
- The team was much more aware of the priorities not only during the standup
- In the case of underestimated planning, we only failed to deliver the least important items
- It was constantly nudging us to “swarm” the highest priority items in as many people as possible. Not only helping to deliver the most important story or task faster (obviously) but also building cooperation and T-shapes
- The whole team was engaged during the daily, paying attention.
- The PO was happy because he had a nice overview of the delivery progress
- It was easy for me to track, visualize and challenge the delivery in case of any issues.
It is a small, simple tweak, but it’s one of my favourites because of how “low effort, high impact” it is. Especially with the junior teams.
Hope this helps,