Thursday, November 1, 2007

The magic of Daily Scrums

Teams who introduce Daily Scrum as a part of their Scrum implementation, have a gut feel, or evidence that suggest, that by introducing these kind of meetings we improve our efficiency. We feel this because traditional status meetings have e.g. a tendency to stretch in time and lack focus but Daily Scrums e.g. are kept short and concisely.

What is a Daily Scrum?

In a Daily Scrum, the team and potential observers gathers, and while standing up, each team member answers three questions:

  • What did you do yesterday?

  • What will you do today?

  • What impediments are in your way?

During the Daily Scrum no observer are allowed to talk and the meeting should last a maximum of 15 minutes. The Daily Scrum is moderated by the Scrum master.

The magic of Daily Scrums

So by just standing-up we suddenly become more effcient! This must be magic!

The truth revealed

Some argue that the reason why Daily Scrums are more efficient is because people are forced to stand-up and want to get to the point and finish earlier. The routine of standing-up also reminds us about the timebox of the meeting.

In my last assignment as a Project Manager I replaced the daily standard status meeting, where all participants would sit down, chat, drink coffe etc. with a daily stand-up meeting. The stand-up meeting was almost like a Daily Scrum. I quickly got feedback that proved that we became more efficient in this way.

Some of the participants argued that my success with the daily stand-up meetings came from the fact that everybody was forced to stand up and this was more uncomfortable than sitting down and that's why we finished earlier.

Although, there might be some truth in that, the main reasons for the experienced improved result probably comes from other parameters that we got for free when we introduced the daily stand-up meetings. These parameters comes from what we associate with good meeting discipline, as put forward by Steven M Smith in is article Rethinking Stand-Up Meetings, Part 2, namely knowing the agenda, timeboxing the meeting, minimize number of participants. Steven M Smith also addresses other aspects and possible improvements of the stand-up meeting but I will not address these here and now.

In addition to the above discussed parameters the Daily Scum and my succesful implementation of the stand-up meeting also had a good moderator who always makes sure that the meeting sticks to the agenda and the rules. A good moderator is also a key to good meeting discipline.

So there is actually nothing magic about the Daily Scrum, only discipline, and discipline runs all through Scrum.

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