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Time for the Daily Status…er…Scrum Meeting

The daily Scrum meeting is often referred to as a status meeting. Even the Wikipedia definition includes the phrase “…a project status meeting…”. I don’t know about you, but when I get invited to a “status meeting”, I cringe. They are usually mundane and boring.

Many people bring a laptop, tablet or smartphone to status meetings so they can entertain themselves and stay awake. (I’m sure you and I have never done that.)

Now the agile software development team hears that they must attend daily status…er…Scrum meetings. Oh, but they are stand-up meetings and only last 15 minutes. (Right, 15 minutes of their lives that they’ll never get back.)

Okay, In general, the way project status meetings are run varies widely. Many will bore you to tears but some are run well and actually impart useful information. Within the broad definition of “status meeting”, I have to admit that the daily Scrum meeting qualifies.

If you’re a Scrum Master, your job is too prevent boredom. The primary purpose of the daily Scrum meeting is to align the development team. The developers need to share information and sync up.

I wrote a post last November about the three questions to ask each developer at the Scrum meeting. It is called “It’s Not What You Did, It’s What You Finished” but there is more to it.

It’s fine to ask what was done and what will be done but it’s more important for everyone to understand what’s happening and why. As everyone cycles through the famous three questions, get them to include information that addresses the following supplementary questions:

  • What impediments did you overcome and how? (This will help others who face the same issues.)
  • What did you learn? (This could be technical, organizational, or business information that may help others.)

These additional questions won’t result in answers from everyone, everyday. You want the team to keep these questions in mind and address them as needed.

The team needs to stay aligned. They need to synchronize. They have to share information. That’s what the daily Scrum meeting is about. It is not just another boring status meeting.

Oh! And no laptops, tablets or smartphones allowed.

Updated: February 21, 2011 — 10:18 pm

2 Comments

  1. We have our daily stand-ups at high noon, which encourages people to be concise so they can go eat.

    I facilitate these meetings. I mostly let people talk. But I do jump in if someone is going off on a tangent or if a comment generates a lot of back and forth and it’s clear that the topic needs a separate meeting.

    And we literally STAND. No one is on a computer or a phone. Everyone is focused on sharing their status and getting out of there.

    I’ve heard from many members of the team that they find these meetings helpful.

    1. Do you make notes during or after the meeting? I facilitate the scrum meetings in my company as well, but I am trying to find some way fun to do that. What do you suggest?

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