The value of the Daily Scrum and why you should do it well

Scrum values team autonomy. Some people might still wonder how the team is managed in practice.

It relies notably on the various Scrum events and the role of the Scrum master.

How so? Let’s look at the most iconic meeting of Scrum: the Daily Scrum (aka daily meeting aka standup meeting) and what it brings in terms of team self-control.

This article focuses on Scrum team autonomy. We will cover other aspects of the event in later articles. You can as well look at this good article.

What is the Daily Scrum

As a reminder, the Daily Scrum is defined as a 15-minutes event, held every day, by and for the development team (more information about Scrum here and of course in the Scrum guide).

The way the team runs this meeting is flexible, but the objectives are (according to the Scrum Guide):

  • Inspecting the following:
    • the work since the last meeting
    • the progress toward the Sprint Goal
    • how progress is trending toward completing the work in the Sprint Backlog
  • Plan work for the next 24 hours

 

Daily Scrum is a lot about self-inspection. In practice, most teams run the Daily Scrum as a roundtable to typically answer the questions:

  • What did I do yesterday?
  • What will I do today?
  • Which impediments I have encountered?

In addition, it is usually the time that we reflect the progress graphically on the team sprint board. Using remaining estimations or not, it shows factually if a story is moving forward or not.

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What are the benefits of Daily Scrum?

We can discuss of the importance of inspect and adapt during the execution of the Sprint. This is easily understandable and well documented[1].

But there is much more to get from this event: the team autonomy.

One of the key problems in Scrum adoption is that self-organized teams are not seen by organizations (leaders/managers) as a valid replacement of more top-down management of teams. Weekly reports, status meetings, one-to-one meetings with manager often occurs to control the team after an agile transformation has taken place.

Daily Scrum is a lot more powerful than that: imagine that everyday, you have to explain what you have been doing and what you propose to do, this in front of the whole team where all members success and fail together, and are knowledgeable about what you do. This kind of social pressure is much stronger and sharper than any command-and-control management style.

The Daily Scrum is the way for self-organized teams to control themselves.

 

How to put in place an effective Daily Scrum

There are conditions for the event to bring its full value on team autonomy:

  • Clear sprint board: Using visual management of the sprint is a good practice. In case of remote team, you need a tool to do this[2]
  • The team must follow the basic rules: We have seen “Daily Scrum” run once per week for one hour. We have seen “Daily Scrum” used to take coffee and having personal discussions. Unsurprisingly, if the Daily Scrum is not run properly, it will reduce or fully remove any benefits stated above
  • Every team member is open to work in transparency: the Daily Scrum asks for transparency from each developer. It might not fit will all temperaments, and we need to accept that some people are just not strong team players[3]
  • Find the right balance between temperaments: in any group of people, there are differences in perceptions, and it is a good thing. When it is time to share progress and adapt, this might cause difficulties
  • The team must try hard: the social pressure we discussed is present only if the team has challenging objectives. I have seen teams with very low pace, low motivation and no pressure at all because it was easy to achieve sprint goals and get sprint scope complete. This takes a motivated team and a nice touch from the Product Owner and the Scrum master to get a working Daily Scrum

All these conditions being written, I realize that we have here another reason to select good Scrum masters, as we already discussed here regarding how he/she should manage conflicts.

Summary

In this article we have seen that the Daily Scrum is a key element of the Scrum framework. Not only it is the opportunity to inspect the team progress and adapt to findings, it is as well a core component of the team autonomy. It is the moment for the team to control itself, via a well-defined meeting scope and in full transparency. We have as well shared few prerequisites to make sure this happens.

[1] Check our video on Scrum for this
[2] An example is the Sprintboard feature of Scrumboard
[3] Not that they are not bad: they would perform better elsewhere

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