Revamping Your Agile Daily Meeting or Daily Scrum

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The conventional approach to running a Daily Meeting is by coming together and having each member of the Team talk about what they have accomplished yesterday, what they plan on accomplishing today and any impediments that stand in the way. The entire meeting is to take no longer than 15 minutes and focuses on keeping everyone aligned. 

However, this type of routine has a few weaknesses. First, too often it forces the Team into a reporting status and going deep into a rabbit hole of explanations where people talk about what they worked on, instead of accomplished. The entire conversation gets skewed into being not goal oriented and fails to discuss the next steps, such as handoffs, and etc. This gets even worse for some teams that struggle maintaining a quality culture within the Team. For these Teams, the Daily Meeting can become overly aggressive and make Team members be very defensive limiting openness, collaboration, and leading to poor results. 

To overcome this, some teams change the format of the Daily Meeting so that each Team Member’s conversation answers the question of where the team member’s completed work has moved the needle towards the Sprint Goal. Although this approach is marginally successful, the problem with this approach is that running the Daily Meeting this way still has a wrong focus – it puts emphasis on individual responsibility of each Team Member’s contribution. Instead, it would be best to place the emphasis on collaborative completion of a desired volume of work.

Is there a way to do this differently? The answer is – absolutely Yes!

Work that is aimed to be completed can be organized in many ways. Often, it has dependencies, and requires handoffs even within the members of the same Team. An example is a Story that requires UI/UX work, backend work, and front end development. So it’s simply not enough for each individual to provide details of their own progress and plans for the next day. What’s important is to collaborate to get work fully completed in the best way and the most optimal time. 

In order to do this, the Daily Meeting needs to be flipped from focusing on personal contribution to focusing on swarming the entire Team around getting things done. Completing one Story in priority list is better than moving 10 Stories to “In Progress”. 10 Stories in progress is activity. One Story completed is real actual progress.

So, how can we do this?

The answer – Instead of running the Daily Meeting by going from one individual to another and asking for daily status, go down the prioritized list of work that is planned to be done instead. For each item in the list answer some questions:

  • What is the current phase of this Story and what still remains to be done?
  • How much time is left to complete the current phase and when could the current phase be delivered?
  • What is the next step and who on the Team will pick that up?
  • What signal is expected by the next teammate from the current phase teammate to commence their part?

These questions do not focus around the individual and any individual contribution. It releases the unnecessary pressure on the individual’s personal performance. The purpose of the Daily Meeting immediately changes from being productivity focused to being progress centric. It focuses the energy of the entire Team to collaborate towards getting things done, one value based volume of work after another based on priority.

Next time you get together with the team to explore ways to improve your Daily, give it a try! You’ll be pleasantly surprised to hear Team Members feedback on this in the next retrospective. 

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