Improving the Daily Scrum Meeting

October 19, 2009 CollabNet VersionOne

Ahh, the Daily Scrum Meeting…  Everybody who knows Scrum knows the three questions:

  • What have you done since the last Daily Meeting?
  • What are you going to do until the next Daily Meeting? and
  • What impediments are standing in your way?

Many people are confused, and think that the Daily Scrum is “about” the three questions – it isn’t… The Daily Scrum is an inspect-and-adapt point and, like all inspect-and-adapt points, it has two parts: collecting information (inspecting) and doing something with the information (adapting).

The three questions are only about collecting information; what the Team does with the information is what’s really important. Because of this,  I think that there’s an important question missing.  I like to ask a more open-ended question that gets us even more information that the Team adapts to.  And that question is:

  • Is there anything else we need to talk about?

Once we’ve asked and answered these four questions we have some reality to deal with. How do we deal with it? Well, I hate to say it, but we have discussions – more meetings. We usually call them “Sidebar” meetings, and have them right after the Daily Meeting, don’t we?

And what types of meeting might we have? Here’s a short list:

  • Re-plan Existing Work.  The most important kind of meeting, and one that often immediately follows the Daily Meeting, is the re-planning meeting.  We need to know who needs help – and give it to them. We need to know who’s finishing something – and make sure they have more work to do. And so on…
  • Impediment Removal.  The second most common type of meeting that the Team may have after the Daily Meeting is an Impediment Removal meeting.  In this meeting the ScrumMaster works with the Team Members that have impediments in order to figure out how to remove, or bypass, them.
  • Intraspective.  The ScrumMaster may have noticed or heard something that requires an intraspective, which is a Retrospective-like meeting to  discuss a particular issue, activity, or event in order to figure out if changes in the Team’s process are in order.
  • Product-Focused Meeting.  Of course, since the Team is working on the stories, there  will be meetings like architecture discussions, design meetings, interface discussions, test design meetings, and so on.  At the Daily Meeting the people working on the Story should tell the rest of the Team about the meetings, as it is generally considered “good team behavior” to allow anybody on the Team to attend a meeting.
  • Scope Negotiation Meeting.  It is occasionally necessary to negotiate a change in scope with the Product Owner during the Sprint. This can happen either because the Team isn’t going to finish all it committed to, or because the Product Owner needs to add or change scope.

I hope this gives you some ideas about how to improve your Daily Scrum Meeting.

Good Luck!

Dan Rawsthorne, PhD, CST
Transformation Coach

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