It can be challenging for teams new to Scrum to get value from the Daily Scrum meeting. The natural tendency is for the team to treat the Daily Scrum as a status meeting, where everyone on the team reports their status to the Scrum Master and/or the Product Owner (or even worse their manager). This is particularly true for teams made up of people that have spent their lives in a command and control environment, where meetings are an opportunity to show off in front of your boss and peers by telling everyone how busy you are. This might make you feel good, but provides little value to the rest of the team.

While there may be some benefit to simply letting everyone know what you’re working on, the real benefits that come from a well-run Daily Scrum are realized when the team uses it to plan their work as a team. As stated in the Scrum Guide, the Daily Scrum is an opportunity “to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and to inspect how progress is trending toward completing the work in the Sprint Backlog.” Remember, the team owns the responsibility for  completing a product backlog item (PBI), not the individual. Scrum teams are self-organizing, and the Daily Scrum ensures that every day the team plans how they intend to “accomplish the Sprint Goal and create the anticipated increment by the end of the Sprint.”

Some tips for having a more effective Daily Scrum:

1. Always start the meeting on time, and keep it to no more than 15 minutes. Starting on time reinforces the importance of the meeting, and meetings lasting longer than 15 minutes are a sign that something is wrong: either the team is too big or you’re using the meeting to solve problems. Table any issues or problems until after the Daily Scrum; you can always meet right afterwards to have any needed discussions.

2. Consider asking the team at the end of the meeting “how confident are you that the team will meet the Sprint Goal and complete all of the items in the Sprint Backlog?” Have them vote simultaneously using a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 meaning that they are sure that they will meet the Sprint Goal, and 1 meaning they can see no way the goal can be met. If you get all 4’s and 5’s you’re good to go, but if anyone votes a 3 or less have a discussion after the Daily Scrum as a team on how to get back on track.

3. Try organizing the meeting by PBI rather than by person. Instead of having each person take turns answering the 3 questions, look at each PBI in progress and discuss as a team what it will take to move the PBI to done.

The Daily Scrum is an important “inspect and adapt” opportunity for the Scrum Team. Don’t waste it by letting it become just another status meeting or by just going thru the motions. The goal is not to “do Scrum” but to continuously improve by being Agile.

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