There’s no doubt about it, becoming agile results in more productive teams and the faster delivery of projects.
Too often teams attempt to cherry-pick the easiest principles to implement, believing that by doing so they will become agile. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that's not how it works.
Of the many agile frameworks, there’s Scrum, which refers to a number of practises. One of these practises is daily stand-ups, or “daily Scrums” as they're otherwise known. This is often one of the first principles to be applied by teams attempting to become agile.
Don’t Blame the Daily Scrum
When something doesn’t go to plan, we often blame the thing itself before properly examining the reasons behind why it didn’t work out. Here are some of the most common problems teams have with daily Scrums:
The daily stand-up must be no longer than 15 minutes. The purpose of a daily Scrum is a status update to share progress with your team, and to shout-out any impediments (anything that might slow the team down or put the Sprint goals at risk). It is not a technical discussion or a time to solve problems. Don’t let it over-run.
No Scrum Master
If you’re participating in Scrums without a Scrum Master, you’re making a huge mistake. It is the Scrum Master’s duty to ensure meetings stays on point, ruling out risk of tangents. They are the ones who make sure daily stand-ups are short and sweet, ensuring participants discuss only what is necessary.
An Unavailable Product Owner
Although the Product Owner doesn’t need to attend all of the daily stand-ups, it’s useful if he/she does attend at least some so he/she can be informed of any impediments. They may also be able to offer some clarity or guidance to the team (after the stand-up of course). The Scrum Master should coach the PO to make sure he’s available if the team needs him.
A Lack of Clarity
Make sure everybody in the team understands the purpose of the daily stand-up and how to behave during one. An effective method is for teams to write down working agreements that everyone agrees to abide by. Sprint goals are often used to make sure the team knows what success looks like at the end of a sprint.
An Inappropriate Workspace
Many teams struggle when members of their team are situated in different rooms, buildings, or even countries. They blame a lack of communication and transparency that often comes with team members unable to be present in the physical form during stand-ups. This is a common reason why many struggle to adopt the Scrum Framework properly. Where possible create areas for the team to hold their stand-up, co-locate where possible, but when it’s not possible, make sure there is technology available to hold the meetings effectively with a good connection to back it up.
Too Many Meetings
Often teams will use the excuse that they are already in so many meetings and that an extra 15 minutes a day is overkill. Too many meetings is a common issue in many organisations of all sectors, prioritisation can help eliminate this issue.
Tips on Making the Most of Your Daily Scrum
Same Time, Same Place - Scrum meetings should take place at the same time every day. This helps the team stay organised. Likewise, if certain team members are late, start without them, waiting for other people can create a team-wide acceptance of not keeping to a set time. Incentives such as making the tardy person bring in a treat for the team may make them stick to the schedule.
Be Present - In a digital world it’s hard not to multitask. We as a species have gotten all to used to going on our phones, or other devices while in the company of others be that in the workplace or not.
Come Prepared - Make sure Jira Issues are updated prior to the meeting, flag any Issues that are impeding you and close any completed work so the burn-down and Issue statuses are accurate. Make sure you know what you are going to say to the team and keep it concise.
Don’t Interrupt - Nobody likes to be interrupted. Let the person finish speaking before you interject. Interrupting others can result in them forgetting what they were talking about and can ultimately lead to a tangent.
Use Metrics - Refer to Jira Kanban and Dashboards during the daily Scrums, this ensures the whole team are keeping Issues up-to-date and also helps highlight any delays or problems.
Stand Up - It's in the name but a lot of teams choose to sit down, this removes the sense of urgency and creates a tired setting for those present.
Make it Fun - It doesn’t have to be dull and repetitive, do something to make it fun; talk like a pirate, turn your update into a rhyme, wear a silly hat, do whatever it takes to make you smile and have fun at work.
We at Clearvision practise Scrums company-wide and house a number of Scrum Masters. If you need assistance in becoming more agile we provide a range of solutions to help from contractors to training and consultancy.
Scrum on, what are you waiting for!