The concept of the Scrum Daily Meeting is really quite simple.  All that each person needs to do is answer the three simple questions (What have you done?  What do you plan to do?  What impediments do you have?) and everybody is back to work in 15 minutes or less, right?  After attending a lot of these meetings, I’ve learned that there is more to it than meets the eye.

 

I currently am the ScrumMaster for two teams.  Team Q has about 10 people that attend the daily meeting.  The meeting is a stand-up meeting in an open space in our “cubedom”.  All the team members are usually concise in their reports, only elaborating when they are running into some sort of problem.  The meeting is almost always done in 15 minutes.  I actually only make it to about half of the daily meeting due to other commitments, but the meeting is very effective without me present.

 

Team S has 5 people that attend the daily meeting.  We go to a slightly more comfortable spot in cubedom and often actually sit down.  The team members frequently go into more detail in their reports and problem solving sessions frequently break out.  It’s not uncommon for the meeting to last 20-25 minutes.

 

Which team has the more effective daily meeting – Team Q or Team S?  I personally think they are both effective.  Problem solving is usually discouraged at the daily meeting with Scrum.  But since Team S is a small team where everyone is involved in all aspects of the project, it actually is a good time for the team to do this.  The larger size of Team Q doesn’t allow problem solving or more detail because not everyone would be interested.  So problem solving needs to be done off-line.  The bottom line is that the respective approaches work for each team.

 

Here are a few tips for running a smooth daily meeting:

  • Don’t update tasks with new estimates at the meeting.  It takes too much time, for one thing.  The other reason not to do this is you can get a feel of the team members being accountable to the ScrumMaster.  What you really want is a self managed team that is accountable to each other, not the ScrumMaster.
  • Do make sure the tasks are updated with estimates before the meeting and the burndown is present at the meeting. 
  • Do limit problem solving.
  • Do make sure the individual tasks are descriptive and granular.  It’s ideal when estimates for individual tasks are around one day.  If the tasks are large and vague, it takes a long time for the team member to describe what she’s doing and for the rest of the team to understand. 
  • If a team member doesn’t burn down any time for a task because she discovered a new predecessor task that wasn’t accounted for, make sure the new task gets added to the sprint.  That way you have a better history and a more accurate burndown chart.

It can be a challenge to make the daily meetings feel productive at times, but a few simple guidelines can help it be one of the most useful practices of Scrum.