One aspect of Scrum that’s controversial is the daily standup. Some people just hate any group event that remotely resembles a meeting. Sitting, standing, kneeling … it doesn’t matter. Having to wait around and listen to others jibber-jabber when there’s work to be done can be beyond annoying.
However, there are many developers and testers that value the daily standup as a way to promote teamwork and help teams self-organize. If your daily gathering isn’t working, maybe you’re not doing it right.
You know the drill by now — 15 minutes, 3 questions, etc. Regrettably, many teams do a poor job of running their standups. It’s not an interrogation. It’s information sharing. It’s not for the benefit of managers. It’s for the benefit of the team. It’s not a status meeting! It’s a knowledge exchange huddle.
Here’s a short list of ideas to try. They won’t all work in every situation but pick a few that resonate with you and your team. Give them a try for at least two weeks.
- Have the standup as early in the day as you can. In a practical sense, the meeting time doesn’t matter. However, most people are fresher and more focused early in the day.
- Aim for 10 minutes. Shorter is better. The event should be fast-paced and focused on taking action. The standup should never exceed 15 minutes — never.
- No more than 9 people should attend. This is a practical limitation not a philosophy. Larger groups should only be attempted by experienced teams. Generally, if 9 is exceeded, you need to split up into 2 teams.
- Each person should speak for 30-60 seconds. No one will remember more than that anyway. The team doesn’t need a blow by blow. Focus on results and impediments.
- Managers should not attend. Managers mean well, but their attendance is disruptive. Teams cannot self-organize if managers are always hanging around. Standups are a team event not a management one.
- Try starting at an odd time. Rather than 9:30am or 10:00am, start at 9:32 or 10:03. People will more easily remember the time and may even arrive early. Always start on time and never recap.
- Consider having the Scrum Master show key metrics at the start or end of the meeting, such as velocity or burndown. Keep reinforcing the importance of continuous improvement.
- Mentioning impediments (roadblocks or bottlenecks) is critically important. Do not skip over them. Someone may have an idea or suggestion. You’ll also avoid having multiple team members stumble over the same issue.
- Never try to solve problems at the standup. Take them outside. Share don’t solve.
- When faced with impediments, always keep values in mind both at the team and organizational levels. It’s easy to lose sight of key principles in the effort to meet deadlines and maintain quality.
Adopting simple rules and sticking to them builds trust and respect. Give it a try.