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Navigating the Scrum Events - Daily Scrum

November 30, 2023

What is the ‘Navigating the Scrum Events’ Series?

If you or your team are new to Scrum, you can use this as a starting point to answer, “what should we be doing and why?” for each Scrum Event. If your team is more experienced but you feel like you’re drifting away from healthy behaviors and patterns and you’re not sure how to course correct - you can use this series as a baseline to reset and start re-aligning your team.  This is NOT the end-all-be-all perfect way to operate for all scenarios - but a straight-to-the-point tactical list of steps to help you get to the basic outcomes you need at the end of the event.

The Daily Scrum

Daily Scrum - What’s The Point?

The purpose of the Daily Scrum straight from the Scrum Guide is “to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and adapt the Sprint Backlog as necessary”. This means the team collaborates to figure out what they need to change about what they are doing or how they are doing it in order to achieve their goal. Often this means identifying and sharing what is getting in the way (impediments) and figuring out how to help each other.


“Inspect Progress” Means Status Meeting... Right?

No! The collaboration at the Daily Scrum is explicitly in service of enabling the team to adapt their plan and process toward meeting their Sprint Goal. Remember that the Daily Scrum is for the Developers of the Scrum Team - not for management to monitor the team’s progress. The Developers should be able to share what they have learned so far and their progress with each other in order to collaborate on what needs to change about how they are working together or be updated in the Sprint Backlog. I think of this like the GPS feature on your phone giving you directions. It needs to know your current position in order to give you directions on where to go next. The team needs to be able to communicate and understand where they are right now in order to effectively collaborate on what is needed in order to achieve their goal.


First, Two Disclaimers 

  1. This isn’t the end-all-be-all perfect way to operate for all scenarios - but a straight-to-the-point tactical list of steps to help you get to the basic outcomes you need at the end of the event.
  2. The following steps assume that you have a way to visualize and track the items on your Sprint Backlog with columns such as “To Do”, “Doing”, and “Done”. I highly recommend finding a way to do this if your current backlog management tool doesn't already. Some simple solutions might be sticky notes on a wall in a shared space, or a free online tool like Mural or Trello for remote teams.


Daily Scrum Tactics

1. Look at your Sprint Backlog together

  • If you are remote, have someone share it on their screen
  • If you are in-person, gather in a conference room and bring it up on a screen or gather around your Sprint Backlog sticky-note area

2. Walk the board

  • Starting at the top of your “In-Progress” column, for each item ask:
    • “Who is taking ownership of this right now?”
      • A common issue I have seen is ownership of something getting lost or confused during hand-offs between team members. Asking this explicitly helps surface this situation and avoid accidental assumptions across the team.
    • “Do you need help?”
      • When someone brings up something that they need help with - you don’t need to actually solve the issue in the Daily Scrum. If it will only take a few seconds to solve - great, do it right now! Otherwise, the value realized is having the entire team present to collaborate on who can help - and get an explicit verbal commitment that they will collaborate together after the Daily Scrum.
    • “Have you learned or uncovered anything that might impact our overall plan or Sprint Goal?”
      • Teams often uncover new information or different answers than their previous assumptions while working on complex work. This is normal and natural. The Daily Scrum affords the team a guaranteed time together to make the entire team aware of the new information and get decisive collaboration on what needs to change on the Sprint Backlog.

3. After walking the board

  • Ask a final prompt for help: “Does anyone feel stuck on something today that you don’t have help with?”
    • Sometimes something has come up that will cause problems or be an impediment for the team that isn’t reflected on the Sprint Backlog. This final question should help surface these edge cases.


When The Daily Scrum Is Over...

When the Daily Scrum is complete, the following should be true:

  • The team has clarity and a shared understanding of where they are now in terms of progress toward their Sprint Goal.
  • The team has shared any impediments getting in their way and have collaborated on how they are going to help each other move forward. Note that you do not need to wait for the Daily Scrum to raise any impediments or deal with them. 
  • The team has adjusted their Sprint Backlog if needed to reflect any updates on how they plan to go about achieving their Sprint Goal.


Inspect and Adapt

Don’t stop now! Your team should be able to use the Daily Scrum event to inspect and adapt toward achieving the Sprint Goal - but if you are just going through the motions - over time you might fall victim to becoming stuck in Mechanical Scrum! Use your team’s retrospectives to inspect and adapt how your team is working together and continue to strive toward living the Scrum Values and true Professional Scrum. Here are some ideas of how to start making your Daily Scrum more effective.

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