Of late, an all-too-common trend in Scrum has become hard to ignore. There is a rush to ‘give status’ in the Daily Scrum meeting. Try calling someone and you would invariably hear ‘can I call you back, I have to give status in the Daily Scrum’. People send emails giving the status update for Daily Scrum. Interestingly even those who don’t practice Scrum never forget to give status in Daily Scrum.
Unfortunately, it is followed so widely that almost everyone believes that it is ‘normal’ to give status update during Daily Scrum? But is that the real intent of Daily Scrum? The simple answer is ‘no’.
The Scrum Guide says “The Daily Scrum is a 15-minute time-boxed event for the Development Team to synchronize activities and create a plan for the next 24 hours. This is done by inspecting the work since the last Daily Scrum and forecasting the work that could be done before the next one”. The intent is for the team to look at their forecast, and discuss either how to get back on the track or plan for an early redemption. They need to identify the goal and discuss if it is the right approach with all the right folks to accomplish that. If they need help they are entitled for help as well. Daily Scrum is a daily need. The idea is to inspect and adapt. In fact, just by attending a Daily Scrum you can tell if the team is really agile. It is all about mindset of your team.
So why do people provide status update in Daily Scrum?
Probably the first reason is the set of three questions suggested in the Scrum Guide. The intent behind those questions are clear – achieve the goal or sub-goals for the day, but the suggested format makes it sound like it is driving status communication. People day after day just answer three questions and completely miss the real intent behind those three questions. Sometimes I feel if the guide were a little less prescriptive, it could have served the Scrum community better.
The other reason is the project-oriented approach in Scrum. Since people think they are working on a project with an end date, they need to provide status. Obviously they are not working to meet goals, or sub goals every day; they are working to complete a project so they find it worthwhile to provide status vs inducing creativity to meet the goals. It’s the mindset still catching up with the reality.
The last not the least is the status-seeking business stakeholders, the tribe which has taken the back road in adopting the agile mindset. They do not set the goal for the team and when team becomes goal-oriented they just don’t get it and start ‘managing’ the team. This stifles the growth mindset; team implodes and starts reporting status to keep the stakeholders in good humor.
Who should attend the Daily Scrum?
The Scrum Guide says the development team. The common practice in the industry is it should be the complete team including Scrum Master and Product Owner. The reality is anyone who is out there to make that Scrum successful should attend the Daily Scrum. In my opinion in the interest of transparency stakeholders should be able to attend the Daily Scrum, so long as they understand what Daily Scrum is and why they are attending. Their attendance has a couple of distinct advantages – it helps get clarifications quickly and brings stakeholders closer to the team, ideal for better collaborations. Stakeholders should interact with the team more than just Sprint Review in a Sprint, I sincerely believe in more opportunities for interactions which would open so many doors. In doing that you are not changing any rules rather taking collaborations to the next level. In my current assignment I am even asking the development team to participate in the backlog creation process. Instead of relying on an ordinary backlog, assist stakeholders in creating awesome backlog. We should think terms of maximum utilizations of ‘all brains’ engaged without jeopardizing overall effectiveness
Daily Scrum is the essence of Scrum and if you do that right you would definitely be on the fast track to agility.