Daily Scrum: Not Just for Scrum Masters
The Daily Scrum is not just for the Scrum Master. Instead of a “status meeting” for the manager, it should be seen as a forum where team members are synchronizing their work. We prefer to think of the daily scrum as a synchronization meeting. Team members are synchronizing their work: Here’s what we did yesterday and what we think we’ll do today. How about you? Done well a daily scrum meeting will feel energizing. People will leave the meeting motivate about the progress they heard others make. This won’t happen every day for every team member, of course, but if team member’s fear going to the daily scrum that is usually a sign of trouble.We want to offer one of our favorite tips for an effective daily scrum: If you’re a Scrum Master, don’t make eye contact with someone giving an update. Making eye contact is human nature. When we speak, we make eye contact with someone. It’s only natural that a team member will look at the Scrum Master; call it a heritage of too many years under traditional management but a lot of people on Scrum teams do look at their Scrum Masters a segment like managers to whom they need to report status. By not making eye contact with someone giving an update, the Scrum Master can, in a fine way, prevent each report becoming a one-way status report to the Scrum Master.
The daily scrum is a critical, daily inspect-and-adapt activity to help a self-organizing team better manages the flow of its work during a sprint to get the job done. The daily scrum allows the development team members to share with each other the big picture of what is happening so that they can collectively understand how much to work on, which items to start working on, and how to best organize the work among the team members in order to meet the sprint goal.
As such, all of the development team members are required to be there. The Scrum Master should also attend, in the role of coach and facilitator. But what about the product owner? My rule for product owners is “attend when you can, but we understand that you can’t always attend.” Meaning the product owner is not required to be at the daily scrum. Or stated another way, if the product owner is not at the daily scrum, the meeting can and will still take place.
Others might also want to attend the daily scrum
Managers, stakeholders, anyone, really, who wants to better understand how the team is progressing toward the sprint goal. Those individuals should be invited to come to any of the daily scrums, with the clear understanding that they are there to observe, rather than actively participate. The meeting is intended to be development team members sharing information with each other—not a status report to the Scrum Master, product owner, or anyone else for that matter. The Scrum Master should enforce the general rule that non-Scrum team members should be seen and not heard.
What about the product owner, is he an active participant if and when he attends a daily scrum meeting? Many people believe that if the product owner is at the daily scrum he should be in listen-only mode. When applying Scrum, being practical trumps everything! Often when a product owner attends a daily scrum he doesn’t have anything to contribute to the discussion—his value in attending is to better understanding what is occurring during a sprint. So, in this case, the product is probably sitting and listening.
The following tips are helpful to make the Daily Scrum more effective:
- Repeat the purpose of the Daily Scrum at the start.
- Take a step back during the Daily Scrum, placing you outside of the Development Team.
- Limit yourself to only asking open questions during the Daily Scrum.
- Limit yourself to only asking questions related to inspection, transparency and adaptation: “How does this new insight affect our Sprint Goal?”, “What new work needs to be made transparent?” or “What can us today to help each other achieve the Sprint Goal?”
- Don’t actively ease the Daily Scrum by asking every member to answer the three questions of the Daily Scrum. Instead, let people decide who goes next.
- Ask someone in the Development Team to ease the Daily Scrum.
- Let the Development Team choose the beginning time and location. It’s their event. Therefore let them choose the time that suits them best. This increases the feeling of ownership and supports the team to start on time.
These meetings help the team to realize what each person has done yesterday and what has been planned to accomplish today. The Everyday Scrum helps to improve the individual’s commitment to the team. It creates a self-organized team with a positive team atmosphere.
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