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How Awesome Are Your Daily Scrums?

By David Hawks | Nov 19, 2013 |  Agile Tools,  Article,  Scrum,  ScrumMaster

A team participating in their Daily Scrum

This is the first post in our Scrum Assessment Series. The Daily Scrums or Standups are a critical planning meeting for the team. It should be fun and engaging. A great team demonstrates a culture of shared ownership. They swarm on their work while also keeping their workload manageable by limiting their work in progress (WIP). During an awesome Standup, it may be difficult to identify the Scrum Master, as the team is self-organizing and often runs the meeting themselves.

You can use the following questions to assess how effective your Daily Standups are :

The Basics

  • Does it happen every day? In the same place?
  • Is the whole team present, including the Product Owner?
  • Does everyone show up on time?
  • Are the updates directed at each other (as opposed to the Scrum Master, Product Owner, or Manager)?
  • Is everyone engaged throughout the meeting?
  • Is it less than 15 minutes?
  • Are impediments being expressed?

Good

  • Is it around a board with visible work?
  • Can you see everyone’s face?
  • Is progress visible to the team?
  • Are risks expressed?
  • Does the team focus on finishing the highest priority items before starting other items?
  • Is the team limiting their work in progress to a low number?
  • Are impediments and risks owned?
  • Did the team determine items for further discussion and leave with a clear plan on how those would be addressed?

Awesome

  • Are blocked tasks treated with a sense of urgency by the team?
  • Does everyone have an equal voice and focus on communicating with the rest of the team?
  • Would it be difficult for an outside observer to even identify the ScrumMaster?
  • Does everyone leave with a clear game plan for the day?
  • Is there obvious shared ownership of the work?
  • Is the Standup fun and does it create positive energy?

Here are some ideas you can implement to help improve your standup:

  • Use a physical board
  • Have a talking ball that the team passes around
  • Create a rule to keep long talkers to a minimum like the ELMO rule (Enough Let’s Move On)
  • The ScrumMaster shouldn’t call on people or acknowledge updates. Let the team decide who will go first and who will go next (i.e. pass the ball)
  • Capture follow-up items on a whiteboard. At the end of the stand-up, ensure the highest priority items have a follow-up plan.
  • Promote swarming
  • Work items in order
  • Ask the question, “What do we need to do to get our highest priority story done?”

View other posts in our Scrum Assessment Series.

If you’re ready for a more serious look at how well your teams are getting results from Agile, we offer 3 different Agile assessment services. Visit the page to learn more, including 6 benefits of an Agile transformation.

What items have you implemented that improved your Standup?

4 Responses to “How Awesome Are Your Daily Scrums?”

  1. This is cool. Have you thought about qualifying the results into an overall score?

    Let’s say that you can answer yes to only 2 basic items, 5 good items, and 3 awesome items. How would that characterize your scrums overall?

    • David Hawks

      I have hesitated to get scientific about it and turn it into a maturity model.

      Some things we are working on are tools and techniques which help teams incrementally progress further in agile maturity.

  2. Sreenivas M

    Thanks for sharing. In my opinion, this is best applicable for co-located teams following agile. However, I am quite interested to see similar notes for distributed teams where multiple vendors are involved for product development. Thanks.

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