Stop using anemic daily stand-up questions

All tuckered out

Daily stand-up time. Yay?

When was the last time you jumped up and were raring to go when the reminder for your daily stand-up popped up?

Ya. I know. A long time ago. Quite probably it was only the first couple of stand-ups. When you were still brimming with optimism and enthusiasm to make this new process work.

The novelty wore out quickly. Nowadays, you don’t know anyone that relishes answering these questions on a daily basis:

  • What did you do yesterday?
  • What will you do today?
  • Do you see any impediments blocking your progress?

You can’t see any reason why you should spend time every day trotting over to the team room, answer those questions, hear everybody else answer them as well, and then trot back and try to get your mind in gear again on whatever you were working on.

Whoever invented Scrum must have been bored out of their minds to think such a waste of effort and time could be useful. Let alone energizing.

No wonder. That’s a status report. Something anyone can get by a quick glance at the Scrum board. As such indeed a complete waste of time.

So what were the inventors of Scrum thinking about when they conjured up this daily torture?

Purposeful

Well, I don’t think they were purposely setting out to make our lives miserable. The Scrum inventors purpose was actually to cut back meetings to the absolute minimum possible. Each Scrum meeting serves a very clear purpose. For the daily stand-up (or daily scrum as the Scrum guide calls it) the purpose is:

The Daily Scrum is a 15-minute time-boxed event for the Development Team to synchronize activities and create a plan for the next 24 hours.

Synchronizing activities. Creating a plan.

Now, that sounds like an entirely different ball game. Not at all like the intention is for everybody to report their status and then trot back to their designated part of the office burying themselves in what they were doing before the stand-up.

The purpose as intended of the daily stand-up sounds more like a “where are we and how are we going to proceed” type of meeting.

Scrumptious questions

And this is totally reflected in how the Scrum guide continues:

This is done by inspecting the work since the last Daily Scrum and forecasting the work that could be done before the next one. … During the meeting, the Development Team members explain:

– What did I do yesterday that helped the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal?
– What will I do today to help the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal?
– Do I see any impediment that prevents me or the Development Team from meeting the Sprint Goal?

The actual questions in the Scrum guide are all about your role in the team and about what you, as a member of the team, are doing to help other team members and to ensure that the team as a whole will be successful.

Take away

To bring back some zest in your daily stand-ups, stop using the abbreviated, anemic, version of the questions.

At least without providing some much needed context for them. Don’t think it is necessary to use the “wordy” version from the Scrum guide. Reminding everybody of the actual purpose of the daily stand-up and of the goal(s) you have for the sprint may be all that’s needed to give the shortened versions some much needed context and focus.


What have you done to turn a “status report” type stand-up around?

Posted in People and Teams
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