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Use Kanban and Flow Metrics to Reclaim Your Daily Scrum

January 18, 2022

Every Scrum Team, at some point, will struggle with how to facilitate the Daily Scrum. This event is the source of endless misunderstandings, even including what it's called. It's the Daily Scrum, not the "stand-up."

Purpose

"The purpose of the Daily Scrum is to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and adapt the Sprint Backlog as necessary, adjusting the upcoming planned work." --Scrum Guide 2020

It's a collaborative working session where the Developers on a Scrum Team update their work and plan to progress towards their Sprint Goal over the next 24 hours. Our focus is on the Sprint Goal in this event and how we optimize our chances of achieving the Sprint Goal every day.

Bad Practice

We often see the Daily Scrum devolve into a status meeting. At the center of this anti-pattern are the three questions prescribed in previous versions of the Scrum Guide:

  • What did I do yesterday that helped the Scrum Team meet the Sprint Goal?
  • What will I do today to help the Scrum Team meet the Sprint Goal?
  • Do I see any impediments that prevent me or the Scrum Team from meeting the Sprint Goal?

While these questions were removed in 2020, their legacy lives on. The Daily Scrum is a team-centric event, but these questions focus on the individual. With a focus on individual status and the progress of work towards the Sprint Goal, the value of the Daily Scrum is lost, and what is left is a worthless status meeting.

Collaboration is typically low, issues stay hidden, people check out, impediments go unresolved, and the Scrum Team does not have a clear picture of how they're progressing towards the Sprint Goal. The work is not transparent. Without the work being transparent, the inspection - the Daily Scrum - is flawed. With a lousy inspection, poor (or no) adaptations are made.

Mindset Adjustment

To break out of the status meeting anti-pattern, the Scrum Team needs to shift their focus from themselves to work and collaborate to execute the work. Ditch the three questions right now. They're not required. Consider developing team-oriented questions to help the Developers collaboratively form a plan for the next 24-hours.

  • Do we have a Product Backlog Item (PBI) that is stuck?
  • How are we going to work together today?
  • What's the most important thing we need to accomplish today?

Do you see the shift from "I" to "WE"? No one person is accountable for achieving Sprint Goal. The entire Scrum Team is accountable. We should plan and collaborate as a team. New questions can help.

A Tool to Help

Fixing Your Scrum - Kanban Board
Image from Fixing Your Scrum - Practical Solutions to Common Scrum Problems by Miller and Ripley

 

Using a Kanban Board is a great way to help the Scrum Team focus on the team's collective work and not their individual progress. Talking about in-process PBI's can help a team see what could be collaborated on today. Blockers could be discussed and a plan created on how everyone will contribute to getting that PBI done. This shared understanding of the work enhances transparency and increases the odds of progress towards the Sprint Goal.

Flow metrics can further enhance the discussion by looking at Item Age, WIP Limits, Throughput, and Cycle Time. A Kanban Board with the Flow Metrics creates a visualization that a Scrum Team can use to track their progress, identify possible issues, and collaboratively decide on the best plan for the day that gets them closer to achieving the Sprint Goal.

Conclusion

You have options! If your Daily Scrum feels more like a status meeting, give a few of these suggestions a try. Whatever you choose to do, keep the focus on the Sprint Goal and how the Scrum Team will work together to make progress towards achieving that goal.

Here are some resources that may help:

If you'd like to deep dive into these ideas, consider joining Daniel Vacanti, Todd Miller, and Ryan Ripley in their upcoming Professional Scrum with Kanban course.

You can find more information here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/professional-scrum-with-kanban-psk-online-certification-class-psk-i-tickets-199250151567

 

Ryan Ripley and Todd Miller wrote Fixing Your Scrum: Practical Solutions to Common Scrum Problems. They are the co-founders of Agile for Humans, the premiere Scrum and Kanban training organization.

Join Ryan and Todd in a Professional Scrum training course: https://www.scrum.org/agile-humans


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