Ative at Work

Agile software development

Ative at Work

Myths about SCRUM - "it's a daily stand-up meeting"

Recently I have visited three different project teams that all claimed to be doing Scrum.

When I quizzed them it turned out that what they did was just short a daily status meeting.

Now, if that was all there is to Scrum we could have saved the money we spent on ScrumMaster certifications for everybody in Ative. It's is a good start but there is much more to Scrum.  

The daily status meeting - colloquially called "The Daily Scrum" - is a key activity, however.

Every project - Scrum or not - can benefit from it since it focuses the team on the situation and raises the awareness of the problems that need to be addressed. For truly dysfunctional teams just the simple fact that it provides a few minutes where everbody takes off their headphones to talk to each other about how to achieve their goal is a big boost to the project.

Three simple rules apply to the Scrum meeting that distinguish it from old-fashined status mettings. It's short agenda is simply that every team member must present the answers to the following three questions:

  1. What did I do yesterday?
  2. What will I do today?
  3. What is blocking me from working efficiently towards our sprint goal?

That's all. Timebox it to around 2 minutes per person. Use an hour glass ("minute glass") if necessary so you don't fall into the trap where some old-school project manager type does all the talking and concludes by asking if anybody has anything to add.

At Maersk Data Defence we also used two additional extra questions from Craig Larman's "Agile & Iterative Development":

  1. Do you have any new items to add to the Sprint backlog?
  2. Have you learned or decided anything new of relevance to the team members (technical, tools, requirements, smarter ways of working...)

The essence of Scrum is that of a self-directing, self-organising team. This means that the meeting is not about reporting status to a manager, the goal is for the team to self-organise around achieving its goal and removing any obstacles in the way.

Published nov 23 2006, 09:10 by Martin Jul
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Juha said:

Thanks for the post, just what I was looking for. I noticed that when I tried to be efficient and not waste time during the daily scrum it lead to situation where everybody just said how much to deduct their estimate and people were avoiding to speak about problems. Fast, but not scrum :). Maybe thats what you need the cert for, creating open but efficient atmosphere for scrums.

juli 28, 2010 10:56

Martin Jul said:

The key to successful stand-ups is that everybody understands why it is important and valuable. People are smart, so if it is just a daily nuisance with no visible benefit it will degenerate.

juli 28, 2010 3:37

About Martin Jul

Building better software faster is Martin's mission. He is a partner in Ative, and helps development teams implement lean/agile software development and improve their craftmanship teaching hands-on development practises such as iterative design and test-first. He is known to be a hardliner on quality and likes to get things done-done.
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