5 Ways to Improve Daily Scrum Meetings
5 Ways to Improve Daily Scrums
Getting to love daily scrums
It can be an entertaining moment on a project when a new developer joins a scrum team. For those unfamiliar with scrums, the style can be a little bit alien to an outsider.
When team conversation turns to subjects such as daily scrums and planning poker, eyebrows are raised:
"Planning poker? I thought this was a serious project!".
Although eye rolling can be a fairly common initial reaction to the cult-like style of a daily scrum, a new project member will often be as hooked as everyone else by the end of their first week. After all, a 15 minute daily scrum is a fantastic way to communicate progress on a project and should be enjoyable for everyone involved.
The scrum meeting agenda
Getting the most out of a daily scrum meeting
Daily scrum meetings are one of the most effective and popular aspects of the Agile scrum method of software development. All team members attend and these meetings have a very simple agenda:
1) What did you achieve yesterday?
2) What do you plan to do today?
3) Are there any issues standing in your way?
One of the key characteristics of a daily scrum meeting is the duration. They are only 15 minutes long. Anyone who has ever been involved in a team meeting on a project knows that 15 minutes is short indeed, so you need to have a strategy for making the most of this time. Here are 5 tips that should help you ensure your scrum meetings are as effective as they should be.
1. Be punctual
A daily scrum is only 15 minutes long, so it goes without saying that wasting 10 minutes of that rounding up your team to attend is not a good use of time. Set an example to everyone by arriving early and ensuring it starts at the same time every day, even if you are still waiting on team members to turn up.
2. Late penalties
You arrive on time and you start your meeting on time. However, you still struggle to get your team to be punctual. Even worse, some of your team are failing to turn up because they claim to be too busy.
There's a very simple solution. At the start of a scrum project, agree together with the team a small fine for anyone who fails to attend a daily scrum or turns up late. A popular idea is a small financial penalty that goes towards the drinks funds for the end of the project celebrations. Whatever you choose to do, you can make it lighthearted and still get a serious point across: attend the meeting or pay the price.
3. Avoid meeting rooms
There is a very good rationale for why all daily scrum meetings are stand-up meetings: it stops people talking at length if they are deprived of comfy chairs in which to sit for their long speech.
However, meeting rooms are still the obvious place to hold a daily scrum. But if you do this, the temptation will always be there for people to sit. To avoid this, find an open space instead. Perhaps your office has a spacious reception area. If its sunny, why not consider holding the meeting outside?
4. Visualize success
Typically, a team is full of energy at the start of the project, and energy levels tend to drop as the issues start to creep up and the hours take their toll. Its easy to forget why you are doing the project in the first place when you are beset by problems and setbacks.
That is why it is essential to keep your team motivated and regularly remind them of the end goal. A good way of doing this is to keep a visual reminder near to where you conduct your daily scrum meetings, so that your team can see this every day. If you are building a website for example, you can print out an A3 copy of the beautiful designs you are working to.
5. Invite the boss
This one is a little controversial. Typically, bosses, managers and senior stakeholders do not get involved in detailed meetings like a daily scrum, because they need progress at a far higher level and may not understand the issues discussed in a daily scrum. Typical scrum training discourages management from being involved in these meetings. However, some limited involvement may actually be good for your project. Managers can get nervous about the progress of a project and allowing them to witness a well run daily scrum can give them some reassurance that things are actually happening.
One word of warning: if you do allow them to attend, ask them not to contribute. They must remain silent. A daily scrum is for the team members to talk, not management.
A daily scrum meeting is a fantastic way to get your team together and promote communication and if done correctly it takes about the same amount of time as making a large round of coffees. However, you need to make sure it is set up correctly from the start so that your team get as much value out of them as they can. They should never become just another unproductive meeting to fill up calendar time. Follow these five simple tips, and you will find that daily scrums can become one of the most powerful tools you have on your project.
Do you agree with my five tips? Do you think there is anything I've missed? Add your comments below.
Further reading - some recommendations
Written by Ken Schwaber, the original architect of scrum, this is a must have book for anyone wanting to learn the fundamentals of the methodology