How to improve your Daily Scrum meeting?

During the Daily Scrum, a time-boxed meeting of 15 minutes max, a Scrum team aligns their work by sharing status, signaling impediments and re-planning towards Sprint success. Most Scrum teams keep this meeting while standing; ensuring focus, energy and speed. This is why many teams also call the Daily Scrum, the Daily stand-up meeting, or just shortly: the stand-up. For software development teams that start with Scrum, the Daily Scrum is one of the most disrupting changes in their routines, and sometimes teams resist doing the Daily Scrum. This is not wise. The Daily Scrum is an important meeting for a self-steering Scrum team. The meeting ensures that things are running towards success and that deviations are addressed.

The 3 most common mistakes we encounter in practice are:

  • Mistake 1: Reporting to the Scrum Master. The main mistake is that the Scrum master starts acting as project manager and the team is reporting to the Scrum master during each Daily Scrum. This is not right. The Daily Scrum meeting is a Team meeting. Ensure that the team reports to each other.
  • Mistake 2: It’s not a habit. A second mistake is that the Daily Scrum is not a habit. It varies over time, location, people present, duration etc. Make sure the meeting is always at the same location and starts exactly at the same time. And don’t forget: the meeting is time-boxed at 15 minutes sharp. So after 15 minutes, the Daily Scrum meeting ends!
  • Mistake 3: Only reporting and not re-planning. An other common mistake is that the team is reporting on tasks and tracking their progress at the task level. Deviations from what is expected are not tackled towards Sprint success. However, the goal of a sprint is working and tested software. So, in fact the Daily Scrum is not a reporting meeting, but it is a RE-planning meeting. Re-plan daily to ensure you reach the Sprint goal!

There are also tips to make the Daily Scrum more effective. Our top 5 tips are:

  • Tip 1: Ensure everyone is present, every day! - The Daily Scrum is the most important meeting of the day. Make sure that everyone is present. When the Daily Scrum starts at 9 sharp, agree in the team to be in the office at a quarter to 9. In case you are a few minutes late the Daily Scrum can then still start on time.
  • Tip 2: Vary in formats - Prevent the meeting to become boring. Vary. One idea: use a talking stick. The one with the stick talks. Pass the stick  to the person you want. Or vary with the questions. You don’t want the Daily Scrum to become a Zombie meeting. Try to make it a FUN meeting!
  • Tip 3: Ensure a shared product result - The purpose of the daily Scrum is that everybody keeps an eye on the goal. So make clearly explicit what will be delivered at the end of the sprint. Make sure that everybody understands what will be delivered at the end of every sprint. That is the only way to make sure that the Daily Scrum focuses on what is most important: delivery the next iteration of a working, tested and shipable product.
  • Tip 4: Ensure it is a Team meeting - The daily Scrum is a meeting for the team. They align their work, discuss progress and re-plan if necessary. Make it a meeting of the team, not just a meeting by the team. As Scrum master, step out of the circle or stay away once a while. Just observe what happens when the Scrum Master is not there. It is not a meeting of the Scrum master. The Daily Scrum is the meeting of the team!
  • Tip 5: Signal -> Park - Distinct between signaling a problem and solving it in the Daily Scrum. Signaling a problem is fine. Discussing the solution is mostly not feasible. After all, you only have 15 minutes max! So park solving a problem till after the Daily Scrum. Signaling is fine but then continue. There is more to share, so move on quickly.