6 Jan

Fixing a Dreaded Daily Scrum

Category:General PostTag: :

I have known many developers who resent the Daily Scrum, or daily stand-up meeting. I have literally watched team members hide from the Scrum Master by leaving the team room before its time for the Daily Scrum.


This typically because the Development Team doesn?t feel it is getting sufficient value from the event. More concretely, some vocal member or members of the Development Team don?t feel they are getting value, and other developers just don?t care one way or another. ?It?s far easier to go along to get along?, they reason.

The Questions Aren?t the Point

In the experiences I?ve had with teams in this condition, they are focusing the Daily Scrum on THE 3 QUESTIONS that some well-meaning person has insisted be answered each day (probably the ?Scrum Master?). You know the 3 questions I mean. They are right there in the Scrum Guide, right? Well, yes. But they are a means to an end, not the end game itself.


It?s easy to formulate these discussion points into 3 succinct questions, but doing so every day invites burnout and discourages the actual point of the event, which is to formulate a shared plan for the next 24 hours. That?s the first sentence of the Daily Scrum section of the Scrum Guide, after all. The daily meeting is more about what comes next, not what happened yesterday.

You Aren?t Alone

Most every daily Development Team meeting I?ve seen tries to use the easily formulated  questions as the fundamental discussion. When we do this, it?s far easier for each team member to:

  • Provide a ridiculously long answer to, ?What did I do yesterday?? This usually includes descriptions of unproductive meetings with no relevance to the work at hand, or others on the team.
  • Gloss over with general language, ?What I?ll do today.? This might sound something like, ?I?ll be working on ?? rather than a declaration of a short term goal to accomplish.
  • Assume my problems are my problems and I therefore have, ?no impediments.?

Thereby implementing the recipe for the worst daily standup meeting you?ve ever attended.

Fix this Silliness

imageHere are my 3 rules for fixing your the Daily Scrum, Daily Standup, or whatever you call it. Keep the originally defined elements in place (Same time and place, 15 minute time-box, etc.), but look out the windshield more than in the rearview. There?s more of it to look at anyway.

  1. Focus on the product.

    If you are about to tell me a long story about why you didn?t get anything done yesterday due to meetings, save it. If you are having trouble getting something working, tell us that you need help. If your contribution isn?t about what we are building together, it?s inappropriate for this discussion.

  2. Move to we from me

    This isn?t a recommendation is to let people hide and not participate. It is a recommendation that every developer can explain what the next 24 hours will look like, assuming things go as planned, for everyone else on the Development Team. Everyone understands the reality of who will leave early, who is frustrated with a vexing problem, etc. All Development Team members can explain the expected state of the product increment and code at this time tomorrow.

  3. How can I help you?

    Instead of denying that I have impediments (because that would show weakness and I am a mighty, mighty, developer who needs no one), offer help with the struggles of others. Even if you know nothing about the problem, a fresh set of eyes almost always helps. Encourage the team to replace, ?I have no impediments? with ?May I pair with you on that after standup??

2 thoughts on “Fixing a Dreaded Daily Scrum

  1. I always struggled with the ‘what next’ step. My previous employer was wedded to KanBan and strictly enforced the rule that you could not have more than one task allocated at a time. This often meant that my contribution for today was the task I currently had. Sometimes that task might only take half an hour after the meeting. Since I was not allowed another task until I finished the current one, I had no contribution to make to the stand-up. I had no idea what I would be doing next.

    And, for me, that’s the big problem with all these systems. People stick rigidly to the ‘rules’ and show no flexibility. In my case, it would have been easy to pick up another one or two tasks for the day at the start of the day, but the KanBan police rigidly enforced the ‘one at a time ‘ rule.

  2. I hear you. * Police of any kind are the problem here. BTW: Kanban says NOTHING about limiting WIP in the way you describe. There are other ways to keep moving.

    RULE #1: Don’t violate common sense.

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