3 Reasons Daily scrum is Broken
With the ubiquitous Agile, Scrum process adoption across technology organizations, daily scrum has become part of everyday life for software development teams, where teams meet at a fixed time every day.
As per the Scrum guide, “The purpose of the Daily Scrum is to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and adapt the Sprint Backlog as necessary, adjusting the upcoming planned work.”
When we look at the above definition, the daily scrum has four key characteristics, making it one of the essential ceremonies for the desired outcomes.
Inspection means careful examination and scrutiny to meet the need.
The goal is a shared understanding of sprint outcome in a team against which they self-organize.
Team modify approach based on their learning
Continuous planning to keep the desired outcome in sight.
Due to the above characteristics, scrum teams and even some kanban teams follow daily scrum ceremonies religiously.
However, following mechanical activities daily rather than focusing on daily scrum objectives derails teams from achieving the desired outcome and creates dysfunctions.
Below are three issues making daily scrum dysfunctional.
1. Lack of clear sprint goal
By Daily scrum definition, sprint goal is one of the critical artifacts against which the team inspects their progress, adapt, and adjusts daily.
If you do not have externalized sprint goal, which is easily accessible to all team members, then desired actions to inspect, adapt, adjust could not be achieved.
Some teams understand the value of sprint goals and end up with almost the same number of goals as the number of issues they are working on. At the same time, others have unrelated multiple outcomes at the end of the sprint, which necessitates various sprint goals.
Even if you end up with multiple sprint goals, to achieve desired benefit and outcome, the team should collaborate on the top priority sprint goal, and once it is completed, move to another one.
What to do about it?
Focus on creating an externalized written sprint outcome, which is understood by the team. There may be cases when more than one outcome is expected from the sprint; however, prioritize those outcomes, guiding the team to collaborate on achieving the most valuable outcome rather than jumping to the next one.
2. Three magic(or mechanical 🙂) questions and a facilitator
You are asked to limit your response to below there magical questions
1) What you did yesterday?
2) What are you planning to do today?
3) Any impediments?
The problem with these questions is that it makes daily scrum mechanical. The focus is not on inspection, adaptation, or adjustment against the goal but to quickly communicate what you have done and will be doing based on the plan you already created.
The challenge with questions is that someone needs to ask them, and in most cases, it is the facilitator, and people tend to answer these questions to the facilitator, where others keep waiting for their turn to be asked questions and reply with answers.
There is no focus on shared sprint goals, and individual tasks triumph over collective ownership of sprint outcome.
The third magic question is even more dangerous, where people misinterpret that they need to wait till daily scrum to highlight or discuss impediments.
What to do about it?
Get away from the magical questions and encourage the team to discuss their progress against sprint goal without any template, scrutinize the evidence of progress to figure out if any adaption and adjustment are needed to meet the desired goal. Inspection should be a collaborative exercise, where each member is scrutinizing completed activities against the desired outcome.
3. Improper names for daily scrum ceremony
Word affects how our brain responds, and there are many different names used for daily scrum. Some people do not even know that its original name is daily scrum ( I also had a similar discussion multiple times to explain the difference between sprint review and sprint demo 🙂)
Below are some of the things the team use instead of the daily scrum
- Daily sync up
- Daily Status
- Team X Daily
Let me know in the comments what other names you heard about daily scrum?
I see many teams communicating, such as
“I will miss standup and will post my status update here in slack.”
Improper use of words has resulted in incorrect expectations about daily scrum and resulted in team members’ responses. In many cases, scrum masters and agile coaches are to blame.
What to do about it?
Use an intentional name for the ceremony, and it is called daily scrum intentionally by scrum guide. If you can’t come up with a relatable name, which creates a positive feeling towards the desired objective of the ceremony, then maybe continue to use the original name.
The Family Meal
Recently I learned about the concept of a Family meal.
A family meal is eaten by restaurant staff together either at the start of their day or the end of the day. Some of the objectives of family meals are.
1) Create a feeling of equality — Everyone eats together with the same meal regardless of their designation in a restaurant.
2) Discuss Plans for the day or learnings for tomorrow — Depending on when they are having a family meal, the staff discusses how they should approach their day and how each one could fit in to achieve the desired outcome. At the end of the day, a discussion happens about how the day went, the game plan for cleanup, and what we need to do to prepare for tomorrow.
3) Create shared understanding and a sense of belonging. Family meals help create a sense of belonging to restaurant staff and a shared understanding of how the team will be approaching the day to meet the desired goal of delighting their customers. This guide team throughout the day to fill each other’s shoe as needed to ensure they are focusing on their goal.
The family meal could be a good structure for Daily Scrum!
There are so many similarities about the objective of these two ceremonies, Daily Scrum, Family meal used in software teams, and restaurant teams. That following family meal structure could help software teams significantly.
As per the Scrum guide, “The Developers can select whatever structure and techniques they want, as long as their Daily Scrum focuses on progress toward the Sprint Goal and produces an actionable plan for the next day of work. This creates focus and improves self-management.”
The family words create a sense of belonging, trust and as we know, our brain reacts differently to different words; calling daily scrum a family meal would create openness in inspection against sprint goal while treating everyone in the team equally and help everyone figure out how they could fit in to achieve each day’s goal to ensure the team is on track to achieve sprint outcome.
Let’s eat a family meal from tomorrow!