6 Effective strategies to master your daily scrum
Updated: Mar 2
Daily Scrum or daily stand up meeting is probably the most abused and misunderstood practice in Scrum. In this article I would like to shed light on some common misconceptions of this Scrum ceremony as well as comment on its true purpose so that you can revisit the way you conduct your daily stand up and just give it a second chance. If you are new to Agile and Scrum, you will also find this very useful and (hopefully) will not make the same mistakes in the way you introduce and communicate this ceremony to your Scrum team. Let’s make our daily stand ups great again!
1. Remember the purpose
The main goal teams need to pursue when conducting daily stand up is to sync with each other and coordinate their daily activities.
Before diving any deeper, let’s remind ourselves of 3 key questions being answered by each team member in a random order:
What did I accomplish from the last stand-up meeting?
What am I planning to accomplish until the next stand-up meeting?
Do I have any blockers or need help?
2. It’s about planning
Below you can see different agile planning levels: a so-called planning onion. At the very bottom of it we have daily stand up. Hence what we’re doing daily should match our overall vision and goals. Stand up is just another level of planning, the lowest one, when we plan for the next 24 hours until the next daily meeting.
3. It’s about focus
Think of it the following way: teams have to stay focused on their sprint goals. Agree?
Hence try to finish your stand up with the following question:
Do you think we're on track for the sprint goal?
That will help your team stay focused and brainstorm any potential impediments towards achieving the sprint goals. So use your daily stand up to highlight any possible blockers or risks.
4. It’s not a status meeting
Cannot stress this enough: how often I’ve seen teams reporting to someone during a daily stand-up. It’s not a status meeting, and, please, don’t treat it this way.
No surprise team members do not see how THEY can benefit from this ceremony.
Start with telling the team that it’s for THEM, not for you as a Scrum Master, Project Manager or anyone else. Unfortunately in many cases stand up meeting is used as one of the means to control the team and check their progress. Here’s a couple of suggestions to stop your stand up from being a status meeting:
Mentor your team (and business stakeholders!) on a true purpose of a daily stand up
Don't show up as a Scrum Master, PM, or Product Owner
Consider someone else facilitate the meeting
Break eye contact with the person speaking
5. Don’t dive into discussions or solving problems
Here’s another reason why most people start to avoid daily stand up. How often have you found yourself on a meeting where the thing being discussed isn’t even related to you? Or maybe you were tired of endless discussions that took tons of time without any valuable outcomes? No one likes wasting their time during a long meeting and that’s fair.
Problems should be signaled, but not solved during the daily stand up.
By taking these two actions:
Calling the daily scrum officially over and announcing how many minutes it took; and,
Telling team members who are not needed for further discussions that they can leave
you will help team members from feeling that the daily scrum is exceeding its 15-minute time box and therefore avoid complaints. Long story short, help everyone keep the stand up short and to the point. Your team will thank you for that.
6. Don’t ‘’run’’ your stand up
Well, let me explain what I mean by saying this. You already know that daily stand up is for the TEAM, right? So unless you're teaching your team how to do daily stand up, stop running this meeting. In fact, if the team works together for some time already and stand up is not a new practice for them, it should not be run by anyone but the team itself.
As a Scrum Master in an immature team you’d usually start with calling on a person to speak next to share their progress and plans with everyone. You’d say something like ‘’John, now it’s your turn’’. You’d keep doing this for some time, but then I recommend you to stop and let your team members call the next person to speak. As a Scrum Master, just stay silent, don’t say anything. Just be there for the team to record any impediments that they are highlighting and look for any opportunities to coach. Other than that, leave stand up completely to your team, they own it - not you. This way they will learn how to self-organise much faster.
Daily stand up, being practiced on a daily basis, can become a real burden if conducted in a wrong way, which has nothing to do with Agile. If done right, however, it can lead to enhancing your process greatly, so you can work more efficiently and effectively.
Let me know in the comments below what you think about daily stand-ups and what kind of problems you face. If you liked this post, please share and subscribe to get notified of the next one!
P.S. Looking for additional guidance on Scrum framework as a whole? I’ve created Agile Scrum Master training course for beginners with everything from A to Z needed for you to succeed with Agile.