5 Anti-patterns of a Daily Scrum
What a Daily Scrum is NOT?
Following my article about a “Perfect Daily Scrum”, I started to think about some common anti-patterns of the daily. Depending on the culture of the company and the maturity of the team, I thought I could distinguish at least five most common misinterpretations of the daily meeting.
Here are five anti-patterns of a Daily Scrum meeting with some ideas on how to address them.
1. Daily Scrum is NOT a meeting about random topics
It‘s not for talking about random stuff we did yesterday and will do today. Let’s see a real-life example:
“Yesterday I participated in the town hall meeting and then I had a one-on-one with my manager, then I went to the dentist’s and afterward, I updated this configuration issue. Today, and so on…”
If this happens, it might be a sign that the team is not sure what this meeting is for. How do we solve this?
Ask yourselves out loud “What is the Daily for? What value does it bring to us as a team?” and respond sincerely.
Daily serves the Development Team to make a plan for the day. It should take no more than 15 minutes and is meant to help the team progress towards the Sprint Goal. It’s not about what you did yesterday, it’s about
“What did you do yesterday that helped the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal” And so on.
It’s an opportunity to share if there is any problem or if you want to know how things progress. It helps fill the blanks of the Sprint board — how we are going; if there is anything we need to replan; how to regroup in order to meet the Sprint goal or the team commitment. This simple exercise will help bring the focus back to what matters. It’s worth mentioning that this is not the only way to structure a Daily. You can find more examples in my video here.
2. It is NOT a meeting conducted by Scrum Master, Product Owner or the Manager
The Daily Scrum is an internal meeting for the Development Team. If others are present, the Scrum Master ensures that they do not disrupt it.
You may wonder why does the Scrum Master attend the meeting frequently?
The role of a Scrum Master is to ensure the meeting happens and doesn’t last longer than fifteen minutes. In the beginning, the Scrum Master is there to help and guide the team to understand what it is for. When the time passes the team gets mature enough to conduct it on their own. I encourage the teams I work with to rotate the facilitation of the Daily Scrum. This way they take ownership of the meeting completely and do it in a way that suits them best.
3. Daily Scrum is NOT a status meeting
You shouldn’t be there justifying your working hours — trying hard to remember what you did the previous day just to justify the 8-hour workday. Stressing over not presenting yourself well enough e.g. thinking that working on one task instead of five, as some of the others, will not be well seen, or listing all the meetings you attended the day before, etc.
It is OK to say nothing or simply “I haven’t done anything for the Sprint Goal.”
Here’s when the Scrum values come into play: focus, openness, and respect — you are open, you care about the focus of the team and respect their time. You don’t distract them by giving excuses or going into detail about something out of the team’s scope. You trust each other to do your best every day.
4. Daily Scrum is NOT a meeting for long discussions
— talking about stuff outside of the sprint, opening discussions, and searching for solutions.
That’s probably one of the most common issues even in mature teams that have worked together for a long time. When the team starts different discussions during the daily, it gets constantly on and off and, in the end, we don’t know anymore what we were talking about. So how can we prevent this from happening?
Here’s where the magical question comes into play “Shall we take it after the daily?”
Asking the magical question is the responsibility of each and every team member whenever they hear someone starting a discussion. During the daily, we should strive to maintain a focused conversation to create a plan for the day. It is a great practice that some of the team members meet immediately after the Daily Scrum for detailed discussions, if necessary. And it’s one of the signs of a mature team.
5. Daily Scrum is NOT the only checkpoint for the team
It is not the only moment of the day to update the board and each other about the current situation of the Sprint. In an extreme situation, the team members would be waiting for the daily to talk about a problem they are facing instead of doing it immediately after spotting an issue. This may also happen with updating the board that it’s done only during the daily.
The communication within the team should flow constantly.
You can talk in person, on a chat, or even call each other if it is urgent. Don’t wait until the daily meeting to explain the problem you are facing.
Some say that they don’t need the daily to know about the status of the work. It is what a Sprint board should reflect at any point, and it is discussed continuously on a team chat. It serves more as a check-in about what the board doesn’t say explicitly: who is facing problems and needs help, who will work on what next, etc. If you work as a team and focus your attention on priorities then you can get more efficient at closing the tasks within the Sprint.
Benefits of the Daily Scrum
Apart from all those advantages, the teams I work with recognize other benefits of the Daily meeting:
- It’s nice to come together at the start of the day. It builds the team. I even heard a comparison with basketball:
“You don’t start a game without a match briefing, just as you don’t start a day without a daily!”
- It also helps put a maximum hour when the team starts the working day. In software development companies the teams usually have flexible working hours, the Daily determines a moment of the day to have everyone on board.
Daily Scrum is a fifteen-minute meeting yet it can go astray very easily. The key is to keep the focus on what matters and carry on!