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A More Effective Daily Scrum? Do it the Fish! way!

February 19, 2020

Choosing how you will walk through your day, having fun with your colleagues and clients, actively listen and participating in collaborations, and ensuring others also have a great day -I  have written a short story a while ago about the basics of the Fish! Philosophy for being an outstanding team member. In two other blog posts, I covered how this can make your Sprint Retrospective more effective, and also how it can improve your Sprint Planning. Now let’s have a look if this can also work out for your Daily Scrum.

What does the Scrum Guide say about the Daily Scrum? “The Development Team uses the Daily Scrum to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and to inspect how progress is trending toward completing the work in the Sprint Backlog. The Daily Scrum optimizes the probability that the Development Team will meet the Sprint Goal. Every day, the Development Team should understand how it intends to work together as a self-organizing team to accomplish the Sprint Goal and create the anticipated Increment by the end of the Sprint.” In short: have the progress transparent, inspect progress towards the Sprint Goal, and adapt the Sprint Backlog to optimize the chances to meet the Sprint Goal. The participants of this session are the Development Team members. The Scrum Master’s sole responsibility is that the Daily Scrum takes place and teaches the Development Team to stay within the 15-minute time-box. The Product Owner can attend, yet should not disrupt the session in any way. The same goes for others who want to attend.


Scenario A:

It’s 9:00. The Scrum Master is present at the Team Board. Just as agreed weeks ago. 9:03. Still lonely, he goes asking the Development Team members to join him at the Team Board. After about 10 minutes most team members are there. Some are chatting in pairs, some just leaning against a closet. Waiting.
The Scrum Master jumps in and asks each team member what they did yesterday, what they plan to do today, and if anything is blocking them. In summary it seems nothing is blocking them and they’ll continue doing what they did yesterday.
It feels a little strange as the past three or four Sprint Reviews there were quite a number of items not addressed at all, each time jumping over into the next Sprint.
Let’s hope that this time it will be different and indeed nothing is blocking their progress.


Scenario B:

It’s 8:50 and most of the Development Team members are already in the house. Some are already having conversations around the Team Board, others are checking the logs of the latest built of the system (they are doing daily builds – something we might want to have a conversation about in the next Sprint Retrospective, we’ll see). And two others are coming in with… really, a platter full of steaming well-smelling cups of coffee. On second view, there are also cups of tea. How nice of them.

9:00 sharp one of the Development Team members points to the Sprint Goal on top of the Team Board (for which a team member found a funny metaphor during the Sprint Planning session) and explains that she already checked with another colleague that in pair they would tackle an interface that blocked part of the team yesterday late afternoon. They indicate they are pretty confident they have found a solution which they want to try out. Another colleague jumps in after the Fish was thrown to him. He has finished the development of a Product Backlog item and indicates it is ready for the Code Peer Review. Jake will take it up before starting on another item. Next he would love to collaborate with someone to learn about a testing technique/pattern he read about last week to tackle some of the Product Backlog Items that were ready for “independent” testing – i.e. not by someone who developed on it (and of course did the unit testing). Three volunteers at once. They continue their conversation on what best can be done for the last item in process to get it closer to “Done”. The focus on the Sprint Goal really helped them again to finalize things instead of taking that next item and bring it “in-process”. 9:14 and every Development Team member has a clear view on what each one in the team will do to bring the Increment a number of steps closer to Done and closer to the Sprint Goal.


Allow me to assume that you would prefer scenario B. Why is that? It feels straightforward doesn’t it. In fact, in contrast to scenario A, scenario B does implement the four simple practices of the Fish! Philosophy.

"Make their day": it can be as simple as a cup of hot chocolate. Or just thinking about that colleague that does not drink coffee but tea. Or volunteering to help someone out on a difficult topic.

"Play": the Development Team members facilitated their own session; they took the lead; they are self-organizing. Which in itself is more fun than being commanded by someone who manages a meeting. By throwing the Fish around as a prop to indicate who has the word both makes it clear who is in the lead, and … we all know not everybody has the same throwing or catching skills and there is always some fun with this.

"Be There": clearly the team was focused. Focused on the Sprint Goal. But especially to each other. Given they responded very fast to provide help or to collaborate shows that they were actively listening to each other.

And all-in-all, this way of having the Daily Scrum was their own choice. They choose to focus, to listen, to bring a coffee for the colleagues, to take it into their own hands, etc. They did apply “Choose Your Attitude”.


Anything you want to change about how your team acts during the Daily Scrum events? Let us know, we might help you out.

Fish! on…

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