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Is this "The Perfect Daily Scrum"?

September 19, 2020

The Daily Scrum is the heartbeat of Scrum. It's a key inspect and adapt opportunity for the Development Team, encouraging them check their progress towards the Sprint Goal and adjust their plan accordingly. I like to think of the Daily Scrum as an important opportunity for the Development Team to collectively step back from the technical detail of *what* they are doing and focus for a few minutes about *why* they are doing it.

It's also supposed to be an event for the Development Team and run by the Development Team but as we know in "the real world" it's not always implemented that way!

Last week I put together a short video of what a less than perfect Daily Scrum might look like... and I actually impressed myself with how many "Scrum Fouls" I managed to commit in such a short space of time.

How many can you spot...? And, if you're honest, how many remind you of the way your organisation implements Scrum now?



Scrum Fouls

You might call them Scrum Fouls, bad habits or anti-patterns...

Hopefully your Daily Scrum looks nothing like this. But you might recognise some anti-patterns and familiar behaviours so in roughly chronological order here's a list of the "Scrum Fouls" committed in this short video... and some possible simple fixes you might want to consider!!!


Scrum Foul: The Scrum Master running the Daily Scrum

A surprising number of Scrum Masters feel it's their responsibility to run this meeting every day but the structure of the Daily Scrum should be set by the Development Team and it's the Development Team's responsibility to conduct the Daily Scrum. The Scrum Master doesn't even need to be there!

FIX: As a Scrum Master, if you have fallen into the trap of feeling you *have* to run the event every day, ensure that the team understand the purpose of the event, give them permission to run the event in whatever way works for them and then try stepping back!

Scrum Foul: Using the Daily Scrum as a Status Reporting Meeting

FIX: Encourage stakeholders to engage at the Sprint Review to inspect and adapt progress towards business goals and encourage the Development Team to view the Daily Scrum as an opportunity to inspect and adapt their plan for the Sprint!

Scrum Foul: Thinking that time spent in Scrum events isn't real work

FIX: If your team aren't seeing value in the events try to help them understand the inputs and outputs of each event. If they aren't using the Daily Scrum to inspect *and adapt* their plan then maybe they are still thinking of the event as a status update for someone else's benefit.

Scrum Foul: A lack of respect

Turning up late to events or not attending, not listening to one another, not trusting one another...

FIX: If your team aren't treating one another with the respect that we all deserve then consider putting in place some Ways of Working or if you already have them then maybe it's time to revisit them. If you don't know where to start, then try asking the team how they would embrace the Scrum Values in their day to day work.

Scrum Foul: Managers and stakeholders joining in the Daily Scrum

The Daily Scrum is for the Development Team. Some stakeholders might find it useful to attend... but it also might disrupt the event and even undermine transparency if the team don't feel they can speak freely.

FIX: Try directing stakeholders to the Sprint Review or at least ensuring that they don't disrupt the meeting! If stakeholders feel the need to attend the Daily Scrum to see what's going on in the Sprint this might be indicative of a lack of trust or a lack of collaboration with the team.

Scrum Foul: Not having a Sprint Goal

The Sprint Goal gives the team a valuable, achievable and negotiable target to aim for. It's useful for bringing the team together and helping them understand the business context of the work they are doing. This in turn gives them more freedom and flexibility.

FIX: Try encouraging collaboration between the Product Owner and Development Team to agree coherent business objectives that the team can achieve each Sprint.

Scrum Foul: Thinking the "Three Questions" are mandatory

What did you do yesterday? What are you working on today? What are your blockers? A lot of teams still think these questions are how the Daily Scrum should be run. Not only were they updated to be more team focused (and to include impediments rather than just blockers) they also aren't mandatory.

FIX: Coach the Development Team so they see the value of the Daily Scrum and allow them to run the event as they see fit. They might choose to walk the board, focus on the Sprint Goal or to run the event in some other completely different format!

Scrum Foul: Not building in Quality

Studies show that it's much cheaper (by an order of magnitude) to fix defects and bugs when they are discovered rather than releasing them and fixing them later. Good Scrum Teams know that releasing undone work or introducing technical debt will come back to bite them in the longer term!

FIX: Teams should be encouraged to be transparent about bugs, issues and defects as they are discovered and to take responsibility for maintaining the quality of the increment... even if it means a drop in velocity!

Scrum Foul: Not collaborating with the stakeholders

It's easy to fall into the trap of viewing stakeholders as an impediment if they constantly change their minds or don't know exactly what they want. But Scrum is a framework designed to improve your decision making based on frequent feedback loops.

FIX: Embrace change. Expect it. Build relationships with your stakeholders and actively seek their feedback. You don't need to wait until the Sprint Review to show your work!

Scrum Foul: Not having a clear Definition of Done

The Definition of Done should be clearly understood across the team and the organisation. We shouldn't have to talk about done, totally done and done done.

FIX: Establish your Definition of Done, ensure everyone shares that common understanding and then you can have simpler conversations about what's done and what's not done!

Scrum Foul: Playing the Hero

Watch out for Development Team members playing the hero. Some people feel they need to take everything on themselves but Scrum is a team sport.

FIX: Encourage teamwork and collective responsibility. Identify key man dependencies and encourage the team to cross-train where there's a benefit.

Scrum Foul: Being quick to judge

We're often quick to judge others whilst excusing our own failings.

FIX: Assume positive intent and try to build a culture of trust. If you're unsure how to build trust then admitting your own failings and listening to other people's concerns is a good place to start. 

Scrum Foul: Not using the events to inspect and adapt

With complex work we should expect to make discovery and receive unexpected feedback. The Scrum Team should be using the Daily Scrum to update their plan. Sometimes testing will throw up problems. If it didn't then we wouldn't need a Daily Scrum.

FIX: Embrace uncertainty! Be ready to adapt your plan. Planning is everything, plans are nothing!

Scrum Foul: Not understanding that done means done

Scrum is based on getting work done every Sprint. If you haven't tested it, it's not done in any meaningful sense and you don't know your actual progress towards business objectives.

FIX: Encourage the team to work towards a definition of "done" that means tested, integrated and releasable and make that transparent in your Definition of Done!!!

Scrum Foul: Team not taking responsibility

FIX: Encourage the team to be transparent about skill gaps, clear about what they can get done and share responsibility for getting to done... even if that means they might do some work that is outside of their wheelhouse!

Scrum Foul: Dropping work into the Sprint

Work brought into the Sprint should be agreed through collaboration between the Product Owner and the Development Team.

FIX: Stop adding more work into the Sprint and expecting the team to magically get it done! Involve them in the planning and estimating process.

Scrum Foul: Not allowing the team to estimate

FIX: Trust the technical experts to be the best people to estimate the risk and complexity of the work they are doing!

Scrum Foul: Not encouraging questions

FIX: Ensure the team see the Daily Scrum as their opportunity to inspect and adapt. That means challenging one another and holding each other to account.

Scrum Foul: Not sticking to the time-box

Time-boxes encourage focus.

FIX: Encourage the team to respect the time-box!

Scrum Foul: Introducing complexity

The Daily Scrum takes place at the same time and place every day, to reduce complexity. 

FIX: Life is complex enough so don't introduce more complexity by moving the Daily Scrum around without a good reason!

Scrum Foul: Not using the correct terminology

You're free to call the events whatever you want... but being consistent with the Scrum Guide reduces misunderstandings. IMHO This isn't the worst thing in the world which is why I relegated it to the bottom of the list.

FIX: Try to use the correct terminology!

Scrum Foul: And finally... thinking the Scrum Master role is simple and easy

Scrum is all about raising transparency, inspecting and adapting. Open and honest conversations can be uncomfortable. A good Scrum Master should expect to be constantly challenging people in the team and the wider organisation to stray outside their comfort zone. Don't expect this to be easy!

FIX: The Scrum Framework might be simple to understand but if you think that makes it easy then maybe you don't understand it quite as well as you think you do! ;-)



So, I think that's all the Scrum Fouls I committed in this video. I hope your Daily Scrum looks better then this. But did I miss anything???


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