Keeping Daily Scrums interesting and useful
I recently participated in a session at a conference in which the
participants simply built a backlog of questions to be answered by the
presenters. The questions being asked were ones I hear repeatedly in
discussions with Scrum practitioners. I am posting these topics as a series
of threads so we might have conversations about each topic and create a
permanent home for that issue.
*Keeping Daily Scrums interesting and useful*
Our team is bored with our Daily Scrums. The questions get asked and
answered and the repetition is numbing. How can we improve our Daily Scrums?
We had a toy that the team member hold. Because the team name is the Avengers, we held a Captain America action figure on our Daily Scrum Meeting. It kept our Daily Scrum Meeting fun and energetic. It might work for you.
The key to keeping anything fresh is mixing things up. Getting stuck in a rut of behavior will make the daily scrum about as exciting as the commute to work or watching paint dry.
A few things to try:
1. Don't always go consecutively around a circle. Get the current speaker to randomly pick the next person to talk, as long as that person isn't standing right next to them, or use a random number selection from a hat to set speaking order, etc.
2. Don't always feel like you have to answer the 3 questions at once. The team could try answering the yesterday/impediment question as a first round-the-group update, and then answer the today question as a second round.
3. After the team discusses today's plan, a random team member can recap it and then signal the end of the daily scrum. Choose the recap person via a random method at then end. This will help prevent attention drift since you don't know who will have to do the recap and it's also useful where you have scrum of scrums occurring.
4. If you use a task board, don't have individuals talk about their previous day. Instead go through PBI's on the board top to bottom, one by one, checking how each is progressing, what the blockers are and what the plan is for today to move that PBI closer to done. Just be careful that the team doesn't turn it into a status meeting instead of a self-organization one.
And of course these ideas aren't exhaustive. The key is to inspect and adapt. If it's getting boring, try something different - just remember to keep the key elements of team self-organisation and the focus on delivering a done increment at the centre of the daily scrum.
We also introduced a token once, in fact a teddy bear or other doll, or... The one that had the token answered the 3 questions and passed it to someone else, randomly.
The case described is:
"Our team is bored with our Daily Scrums. The questions get asked and
answered and the repetition is numbing. How can we improve our Daily Scrums? "
So, it sounds like people are bored, answering questions using a template but caring very little about this whole event. Still they keep doing it...
Makes me wonder about a few things:
1. Why would they keep wasting their time doing something that they do not feel is useful.
2. Why do they get bored
3. Why do they not perceive the event as useful for them.
Most often when I see this situation, it is caused by problems in the design of the team, in the way the team is started, or in the context the team is asked to work. Thus, my guess would be the behaviour of the team is a symptom and not the cause to be treated.
One example of how to think differently about this is: Make sure the team has an inspiring goal that also is aligned with each individuals goal before trying to fix this by altering daily scrum mechanics.
What you would be looking for is conditions that makes teams work well and that lets people be engaged and inspired. IMO, how to do this is field of research pretty well explored, if not used that much in practice ;-)
I've found using a simple Scrum board directly and physically involves the team and helps keep team members engaged.
Tokens can help, especially if the current speaker hands the token to whoever they want to speak next; requires people to pay attention.
Finally, keeping the team focused on "updating the Sprint plan" instead of answering the same old questions gets people thinking as a team. Yes, the 3 questions matter but they're not the goal of the Daily Scrum. The goal is to update the plan to deliver the most value possible.
Maybe someone has suggestions on alternaitve questions to put focus on the plan instead of the questions?
1. A physical Scrum board is paramount for an effective Daily Scrum. It is when you create the plan for the coming working day and good real data is essential.
2. We usually use a bouncy ball as talking token. You need to bounce the ball to a person which has not yet spoken in a random order. This makes everyone to focus an who has and has not yet talked. Simple but effective and makes everyone listen.
3. Always come with spare cards and a marker to create new task cards on the fly. Sentences like 'I need to do XYZ' which does not yet have a task is a smell, especially for Dev Teams which usually don't meet their Sprint Goal.
I agree with Henrik. Some months ago one member of the development team during the daily scrum answered the questions literally this way: "yesterday I did what I was doing the day before, today I'm gonna work in the same thing and there are no impediments". After trying to understand the root cause of this I came to a pretty surprising conclusion. The guy understood the importance of the daily scrum but he felt owner of some specific PBI and time after time he pushed this wrong concept to the limit thinking of not having to report back to the team.
I suggest to forget the 3 questions and give a try to the Meet protocol described here: http://liveingreatness.com/additional-protocols/meet/
I have been searching as well for things that make the daily scrum fun an interesting and came across this very very helpful discussion. I have added some points out of it to an collection of further ideas, see: http://pm.stackexchange.com/questions/13991/gamification-competition-fu…
On daily scrum meeting how do you actually distinguish a source of boredom comparing those 2 situations:
- the DT is bored with the meeting format, although they know it's the best possible way to get synced and aligned for a day; and,
- the DT is bored because team members are not passionate about: their work as a software developers in general OR the product they work on OR they're sick of discipline and need to loose a bit OR a mix of those
And one more question: have you ever seen a passionate team of developers that are thrilled about the product they work on saying that they need a Teddy Bear token because daily scrums are not interesting?
I don't advise using palliatives, such as toys, to alleviate boredom in a Scrum. It's important to get to the root of why people are bored. In other words, it is a matter to be addressed no later than the next Sprint Retrospective, and preferably immediately. Common problems include a lack of joint focus on the Sprint Goal, such as developers working in silos and thus being uninterested in the work of others, or low morale caused by wider political issues.
Tokens used in a Daily Scrum ought to be tools and nothing more. Their purpose is to help discipline highly motivated and engaged team members so that the 15 minute time-box limit is observed. Clearly it's a good thing if fun items are used (after all, why not?)...but it certainly isn't *their* purpose to be engaging.
I'm fully agry with Ian, if daily is boring, probably something else is not working as good as it could. Maybe sprint goal or whole product increment is not sexy as it could. Maybe there are some hidden, unspoken issues around, or maybe people are tired because of exhausting sprints..