Breaking Down the Daily Scrum

What’s the Purpose?

The Daily Scrum is possibly the most frequently misunderstood of all the Scrum Events.  The Daily Scrum is a very short inspection and planning session.  The Development Team meets to inspect its progress and synchronize its next 24 hours of work towards achieving the Sprint Goal.  

The Daily Scrum is a 15-minute time-boxed event for the Development Team to synchronize activities and create a plan for the next 24 hours.  

Who can Attend the Daily Scrum?

The Scrum Guide itself does not limit who may attend the Daily Scrum.  Transparency is one of the three pillars of Scrum, and it can be argued that allowing unlimited attendance to the Daily Scrum increases transparency.  There is a great difference, however, between attendance and participation.

Who can Participate in the Daily Scrum?

While the Scrum Guide does not limit the attendees of the Daily Scrum, it does explicitly state that only the Development Team may participate.

The Scrum Master enforces the rule that only Development Team members participate in the Daily Scrum.

The Daily Scrum gives the Development Team a 15-minute opportunity to, by itself, focus, inspect and plan its progress towards the Sprint Goal.  The Development Team is responsible for completing the work so it should be shown the respect in taking a short time to inspect its work without distraction or persuasion.

Every day, the Development Team should understand how it intends to work together as a self-organizing team to accomplish the Sprint Goal and create the anticipated Increment by the end of the Sprint.

A common mistake made by Scrum Teams is to allow the Product Owner to participate in the Daily Scrum.  The meeting tends to become a status report to the Product Owner, with each Developer feeling the need to report on his or her individual progress.  The Development Team’s self-organisation often starts to deteriorate, and input from the Product Owner becomes a necessity to guide the Development Team towards the Sprint Goal.  As the Product Owners’ responsibility is not to complete the work, the Product Owner does not need to and should not plan how the work is completed.  

But what if the Product Owner has some important update that may influence the Development Team’s daily plan?  There are 23 hours and 45 minutes left in the day for the Product Owner (and anyone else) to ensure that important information is communicated to the Development Team.  Anything encouraging a delay in providing that information should be seen as an impediment and removed by the Scrum Master.  The risk of such information arising within the short 15-minute meeting is so low, that there should be no need for any interruptions.

If the Development Team, or even the entire Scrum Team, retrospectively determines its communication is poor and thinks it would benefit from recurring status update meetings, then it may schedule them accordingly, but the Daily Scrum is not a status update meeting and should not be replaced by one.

The Development Team or team members often meet immediately after the Daily Scrum for detailed discussions, or to adapt, or replan, the rest of the Sprint’s work.

How does the Daily Scrum Happen?

A misconception of the Daily Scrum is that it must be a stand-up meeting, in which all participants are required to stand and take turns speaking.  The Scrum Guide does not mention stand-up at all and it does not prescribe a format for the Daily Scrum.

There are three key questions which will be covered by the Developers:

  • What did I do yesterday that helped the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal?

  • What will I do today to help the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal?

  • Do I see any impediment that prevents me or the Development Team from meeting the Sprint Goal?

How these questions are answered and in what format depends on the Development Team.

Because stand-up meetings are a good technique for keeping meetings short and because we naturally take turns, a turn-taking stand-up is probably an adequate format for most Development Teams.  The key things to avoid are the meetings becoming stale with Developers losing interest, and the purpose being lost, where creating a plan and inspecting progress devolves into a status update.

In answering the questions above, the Development Team will address its progress towards the Sprint Goal.  This is often supplemented by reviewing the trends in a burndown chart.

The Development Team uses the Daily Scrum to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and to inspect how progress is trending toward completing the work in the Sprint Backlog. 

By the end of the Daily Scrum, the Development Team will have assessed its progress towards the Sprint Goal and produced a plan for the next 24 hours.  The Development Team should also be prepared to discuss any new impediments with the Scrum Master after the Daily Scrum.

 

What does the Scrum Master do During the Daily Scrum?

Not participate!  The Scrum Master must make sure that the Daily Scrum occurs, that it sticks within the time-box, and that only the Development Team participates.  The Development Team is responsible for starting the meeting and organising themselves to ensure the purpose of the meeting is met.

The Scrum Master ensures that the Development Team has the meeting, but the Development Team is responsible for conducting the Daily Scrum. The Scrum Master teaches the Development Team to keep the Daily Scrum within the 15-minute time-box.

The Development Team must also refrain from looking to the Scrum Master for solutions to impediments during the Daily Scrum and likewise, the Scrum Master should not interrupt the meeting to clarify or discuss an impediment.  Such discussions should take place afterwards.

The Daily Scrum per the Scrum Guide

The Daily Scrum is a 15-minute time-boxed event for the Development Team to synchronize activities and create a plan for the next 24 hours.  This is done by inspecting the work since the last Daily Scrum and forecasting the work that could be done before the next one.  The Daily Scrum is held at the same time and place each day to reduce complexity.  During the meeting, the Development Team members explain:

  • What did I do yesterday that helped the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal?
  • What will I do today to help the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal?
  • Do I see any impediment that prevents me or the Development Team from meeting the Sprint Goal?

The Development Team uses the Daily Scrum to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and to inspect how progress is trending toward completing the work in the Sprint Backlog. The Daily Scrum optimizes the probability that the Development Team will meet the Sprint Goal. Every day, the Development Team should understand how it intends to work together as a self-organizing team to accomplish the Sprint Goal and create the anticipated Increment by the end of the Sprint. The Development Team or team members often meet immediately after the Daily Scrum for detailed discussions, or to adapt, or replan, the rest of the Sprint’s work.

The Scrum Master ensures that the Development Team has the meeting, but the Development Team is responsible for conducting the Daily Scrum. The Scrum Master teaches the Development Team to keep the Daily Scrum within the 15-minute time-box.

The Scrum Master enforces the rule that only Development Team members participate in the Daily Scrum.

Daily Scrums improve communications, eliminate other meetings, identify impediments to development for removal, highlight and promote quick decision-making, and improve the Development Team’s level of knowledge. This is a key inspect and adapt meeting.

If you have any suggestions (grammar, punctuation, spelling, content, etc.) please post a comment below! This article is a living document!

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