This meet-up was focused on addressing the challenges commonly faced during Daily Scrum meetings. Though it looks like a small topic, once the discussions started, a lot of challenges were uncovered. Discussions led to identifying the underlying reasons of why those challenges occur and what the potential opportunities are to mitigate them.
Most important takeaways from this discussion are:
- Address any communication gap in the team
- Provide visual indicators to all stakeholders
- Improve trust between team and stakeholders
This was a very useful discussion. Some of the topics discussed in the order of priority are as follows:
1.Discussions during stand-up meetings are not related to three questions
It has been observed that the discussions during daily scrum meetings extend beyond three questions and sometimes gets extended beyond 15 minutes.
This could happen when we see a communication gap in the day to day interaction:
- People not talking to each other regularly outside the daily scrum meeting and hence team members may try to use this as a primary source for all project communications
- There are no transparent opportunities to show the impediment list and hence people will be talking more about impediments during daily stand-up
- It is used as broadcast forum to raise concerns
In order to address this challenge, there is a need to figure out why and where the gaps are which is getting filled by daily stand-up meetings and adopt practices to reduce the gaps.
2. How to handle non-team managers attending/driving meeting
It has been observed that in few projects, there will be non-team members attending the meeting and the meeting will be driven by someone who is not a ScrumMaster. It could be someone like a project manager, program manager, head of department, account manager and so on. The manager could have more questions or needs information and it will take more time explaining him/her than focusing on the purpose of sprint goal.
Some of the reasons for this to occur:
- During initial sprints when the trust between team and other stakeholders is not yet developed
- The team is new or the manager is new
- Manager does not have confidence on the team, very anxious, and does not know if the team is moving in the right direction
- Manager is not getting relevant information about the project status
- There are no visual information radiators displaying information about the status, impediments and so on
Some of the ways to address this challenge:
- Consider manager as a person who has genuine interest in the success of the project and anxious about what is going on. Provide necessary information and develop confidence with him/her through results
- Develop visual information radiators to provide all the information that a manager is looking for
- Make the impediments list visible
- Encourage him/her to attend sprint review meeting
- Schedule special purpose meetings to address anything that he/she wants to discuss
- Bring in a neutral person like an agile coach who is accepted by manager and convey to manager about his involvement in daily scrum meetings
3. Should everyone give status during daily scrum meeting
Daily scrum meetings could have team members and other stakeholders. So, everyone may feel that they have to provide status update.
However, the purpose of daily scrum meeting is for the team to plan their activities for the day to achieve sprint goal. So, it is not required for non-team members to provide any updates.
List of impediments should be clearly visible on the board so that the owner of the impediment can provide update without any additional reminders. This could also help in avoiding impediments from repeating.
4. How to ensure equal participation from all scrum team members
When there is a team which is a mixture of senior and junior team members, it is observed that seniors will end up driving the meeting. Junior members will end up giving just ritual updates. They hesitate speaking much about impediments. This problem can occur in other meetings as well.
There could be many reasons for this:
- Junior/new team members feel overshadowed by all the discussions and domain unfamiliarity
- They don’t want to look foolish and avoid speaking
- They are not familiar with other team members
Some of the ways to promote equal participation:
- Nominate them for few responsibilities
- Make the new team member update the scrum board. So that he gets to have conversation with others and understand what’s happening in project
- Give an identity and a feeling of being valued (such a giving positive nick name so that it gets reflected in his work as well). Every team member needs an identity and feels comfortable in expressing themselves. This should be done by a Scrum Master
- Build confidence. Make them comfortable to open up
- Build relationship / rapport. Understand why someone is not speaking. Have an informal conversation to know a person.This is a kind of team building activity
- Make them present during sprint review. Give them visibility at stakeholder level and recognize his/her work.
5. When do team / scrum master update burn down chart
Different teams have different approach for updating the burn down chart. Some of the teams update it before scrum meeting. Some of them update it before end of day.
During initial sprints, ScrumMaster can set reminder to update burn down. But, this should not create a dependency on tools.
If any scrum tools are used, the burn down chart gets updated as soon as a task is updated.
6. Product owner updates about external interface during daily standup
It is observed that in some teams, PO attends the daily scrum meetings and provides updates. Since this is not the main purpose of daily scrum, sometimes, it could result in distraction to the team.
However, this is not a major concern if it helps the team in understanding ‘why’ part of the product backlog and in increasing the chances of achieving the sprint goal. This could even be beneficial if PO involvement helps to refine the sprint backlog without changing sprint goal.
Some of the reasons why PO joins the daily scrum:
- PO feels disconnected if he is not part of the meeting. So, he/she joins the daily stand-up
- Length of the sprint may be too long for PO to provide/receive updates
- There are no dedicated product backlog refinement sessions and hence PO joins daily scrum
- Proxy PO in the form of Business Analyst could join the meeting to provide updates towards reaching sprint goal
7. When everyone is mature, why to have daily stand-up
Sometimes, when the team is mature, they may feel that it is not required to have daily scrum meetings.
If the team is mature, they could still have daily stand-up and finish the meeting quickly rather than skipping it completely. If the daily scrum meetings have been working well in setting up rhythm for the team, it is recommended to continue it rather than changing the way of working.
However, the teams can follow SHU HA RI approach. i.e. they should follow all the rules in the beginning. After mastering the basic rules, they can change the rules.
8. What if team member completes all tasks before EOD and waits for next stand-up meeting instead of taking up next task
This happens if people are process driven. If they don’t have ownership, they can just play a game. Scrum processes are byproducts of building something useful. For e.g. updating burn down chart is not the goal but a byproduct.
This happens if ScrumMaster acts as micromanager. Team members may want to have something to speak during daily stand-up and hence they may not update the task board as soon as a task is complete.
This can be avoided only when ScrumMaster provides right kind of leadership and creates a right kind of environment.