by Alfonz Martinez, Josep Vives and Gustavo Vázquez De Prada

Chapter 5 – Lessons Learned from our Scrum Masters

As you know Scrum Daily Meetings (aka ‘Daily Scrum’ or only ‘Dailies’) are one of the five Scrum Events that appear in the Scrum Guide.

Dailies are a very important event for every Team: these should be a 15 minutes space that help us planning the team day, focusing on the sprint goal. Most of the teams do Dailies first time in the morning, it is a key pillar for daily communication, collaboration and sharing. Dailies help so everything flows naturally in the team.

With the current situation (blended of fully remote), natural communication flow is “under risk”. We have less interactions with our team mates and we aim also for this communication. So the risk is that Dailies become kind of a ‘need to talk and share’ meeting rather than what a Daily should be. As a consequence, you might be facing issues, extending the expected 15 minutes to even more than double.

The duration of the meeting is not randomly chosen, Dailies are short to ensure efficiency and to focus on what really matters, as the Scrum Guide says:

“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.”

So, what can we do to avoid lasting more than 15 minutes and meet Dailies’ goal? Let us share with you some tips our Scrum Masters are using:

  • Regardless team maturity level with Agile ceremonies, help team members, acting like a Teacher and help them to learn and understand the purpose of a Daily Scrum (“The 8 Stances of a Scrum Master” by Barry Overeem)
  • Lead by example, ‘Be precise! The shorter, the better.’
  • Train each Team member to be precise with the message, teach them about how to focus
  • Pyramid Principle here is critical, this 5 mins read are a must
  • Challenge the content
  • The information provided, is it relevant to achieve the Sprint Goal?
  • Expose the blockers for which help is needed.
  • If informing about what I did yesterday has no value, skip it.
  • Use the ’16 minute’ technique. Very often Dailies are the trigger for other meetings, if there is some topic that requires a discussion or an alignment (perhaps which architecture do we have to use, or solving some doubts) invite the team-mates involved to talk after the Daily at ’16 minute’.
  • Move questions to the end, if there are some questions to some Team member let them to the end of the Daily. This way everyone have room to talk and, if at the end you do not have time, you always have the ’16 minute’.
  • Save time using ‘Occupation Traffic Light’: Team members could use a traffic light to visually and quickly share if they need some help during the day (red), if they are busy but ok (yellow) or they will be able to help others (green).
  • Close the meeting at 15 minutes exactly, even if some Team members haven’t the chance to speak. Be careful and read the room and know your Team, this technique could be dangerous in some occasions and needs to be completed by also teaching that if we are not precise and concise, some team-mates may not have the chance to speak.

Maybe you find that your Team is too big. Do not be afraid of Inspect your Team composition and size top to adapt to the current situation. Maybe is time to break your Team in two, or you need some Nexus Integration Team to work across Teams to ensure integration and keep Dailies shorter.

A good practice is to record your Dailies (now is so easy, ask for permission first!), review them later and look for clues and behaviors that you can help to improve.

We hope that these tips help you as much as they help to us, and remember: Dailies are a room for the Team to self-organize themselves, as Scrum Master you help them to take the maximum profit.

Previous articles from this series:

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