Daily Scrum – Three questions no more!

Daily Scrum is an important inspect and adapt event in the Sprint life-cycle. However, it has been taken for granted or converted into a status update meeting by many teams. The blame could be credited to multiple factors including the older version of Scrum guide itself where it stated that the development team answers three questions –

  • What did I do yesterday?
  • What am I going to do today?
  • Are there any impediments?

When one looks at these questions without knowing the purpose of the event; it can easily trigger the thought that the Daily Scrum is status report meet where Development Team comes and answers these three questions.

Scrum Guide Revisions:

Acknowledging that fact, in the 2013 version of Scrum guide the questions were reworded to emphasize the team over the individual:

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

However, even with this change the idea that – Daily Scrum is an inspect and adapt event for the development team; where it needs to understand how it intends to work together as a unit to achieve the Sprint goal – was still not very clear. The focus was on Sprint goal but many teams still simply answered the questions.

To that effect, in the latest revision of Scrum guide in November 2017, few more details were added around Daily Scrum, to emphasize that Daily Scrum is a planning event and the questions are a mere a template to be used. To quote from Scrum guide –

The structure of the meeting is set by the Development Team and can be conducted in different ways if it focuses on progress toward the Sprint Goal. Some Development Teams will use questions, some will be more discussion based. Here is an example of what might be used:

  •  
  • 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?

A team that is just starting up with Scrum may still use it.

Now, there is another challenge.

No more questions – then what do we do?

During my training when I clarify the above mentioned facts about Daily Scrum, I often end facing the question – If we do not have to answer the three questions then what do we do in Daily Scrum?

I always tie back Daily Scrum to it’s purpose, empiricism and Scrum values before answering the question. Here are few tips that I provide to teams to do an effective Daily Scrum without answering the three questions-

  1. Ask the team members, how would they do it if they were unaware of 3 questions and have to keep this event within time-box and focused on the Sprint goal.
  2. Ask the team how can we raise the transparency around the work done so that we can accomplish the Sprint Goal.
  3. Have your visual indicator (ex: burn-down chart) in front of you and discuss around it.
  4. Daily Scrum event is a planning event so, plan your day to make progress towards Sprint goal.
  5. Identify key dependencies and ways to mitigate them.
  6. Ask/answer, as a team, what can be brought to a closure today.
  7. Be courageous and respectful to ask a peer what is delaying their work if you see them stuck.
  8. Look at your DoD and walk through your Sprint Backlog to see what will it take to meet the Sprint goal.
  9. Do a “Fist of Five” to check confidence of the team to deliver the increment at the end of sprint.
  10. Ask if a team member can help a peer if they are stuck with something.

 

I hope this article is helpful to the readers.

Read More about Daily Scrum here or at scrum.org.

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