Scrum answered: Daily Scrum

This is the second post of the “Scrum answered” series. The first article covered Definition of Done and this time I would like to answer questions related to Daily Scrum topic.

Should Product Owner attend the Daily Scrum?

It’s a very common question, asked especially by Product Owners. Let’s first answer on: what is the purpose of the Daily Scrum? Same as for every Scrum event, Daily is an opportunity to apply inspect & adapt loop. During Daily Scrum the Development Team should inspect progress towards Sprint Goal and adapt accordingly to maximize chances to fulfill it and complete all the work from the Sprint Backlog.

By definition, Daily Scrum serves only the Development Team. Neither Product Owner nor Scrum Master are needed, but both can appear helpful.

Scrum Master may facilitate this event helping the team to run it efficiently and stick to the timebox (15 minutes, remember?). He or she can also observe the team and bring any problems to the light.

Product Owner attending the Daily can immediately answer any questions which arise or help the team to understand business value of each task, which is especially important  whenever achieving the Sprint Goal is at risk. PO’s presence therefore shortens communication channels and makes the Daily Scrum more effective.
On the other hand, with PO attending the Daily we may fall into a very dangerous pitfall of turning the event into a reporting meeting. Every Scrum Master should be aware of it, observe and step in if needed.

Expanding the question to cover stakeholders – they should not attend the Daily Scrum. Product Owner can, as a part of the Scrum Team, but stakeholders must not unless they were invited directly by Development Team. But to be honest, I have never seen such a need.

During Daily Scrum we need to answer three questions, right?

Not really. These questions – What did I do yesterday? What will I do today? Do I have any blockers? – are only a suggestion included in the Scrum Guide, but such proposed format it is not a must. You can follow any pattern you see that fits to support the purpose of the Daily Scrum.

The one which I personally like the most is to stand in front of the scrum board and go through tasks, starting from the most important ones or the ones which are the most advanced. This really helps to create shared, mutual responsibility for the Sprint scope and keep focus on the most important things. But don’t be afraid to experiment and change the form of a Daily. It is up to the Development Team (self-organization!) what structure and pattern they would like to use.

I am a Scrum Master and during Daily Scrum all team members report to me. What to do?

This is a pretty common situation, especially if a Scrum Master used to be team leader previously.

In such situation you need to teach the Development Team that this event is directly for them.

As a support you could use various simple tricks:

  • Don’t come to the Daily Scrum. So simple, so powerful. If you feel uncomfortable with that – reflect why? You shouldn’t, because the Daily Scrum really is just for the Development Team, not for you!
  • Observe your shoes. If you break eye contact with people, they will feel uncomfortable talking to you and will pick someone else.
  • Avoid saying ‘thank you’ when someone finished talking, as you create a feeling that he or she was talking directly to you.
  • Don’t decide when the Daily Scrum is finished, allow the team to do so. If they will ask you whether Daily is finished, just shrug your shoulders and bounce the question back.

Can we have Daily twice a week instead of wasting 15 minutes each day of the Sprint?

Before I answer – why do you believe it is a waste? With this question asked, I would say that team missed the whole point of the Daily Scrum and something is terribly wrong.

Daily Scrum is time when the team can inspect progress towards Sprint Goal and adapt according to findings.

In Scrum Sprints last up to one month (mostly 2 weeks) to reduce any risk connected with product development. With such frequent checkpoints you can adapt and respond to change quicker, making sure that the end product will be as expected. The same function inside each Sprint is ensured by the Daily Scrum – checkpoints allow reducing the risk that the Sprint Goal won’t be reached.

Then answering the question – yes of course, you can do Daily twice a week instead of having one each day. But how will you assure the necessary verification of progress towards the Sprint Goal? Is there any other mechanism, and is it more efficient than your Daily? If you’re a Scrum Master of the team that requested this, start with asking your team why they think Daily is a waste of their time. My guess would be that it is not the case that Daily is too often, but rather that Daily is unproductive and the team does not understand its purpose.

We have a problem keeping 15 minutes timebox, and so the team proposed to extend Daily Scrum to 20 minutes. Should I agree on that?

No. You should teach them how to keep 15 minutes timebox. You can think of the Daily Scrum as a Sprint Review, Retrospective and Sprint Planning in one:

  • Review last 8 working hours – what did you do to be closer to the Sprint Goal?
  • Retrospective – how was our last 8 working hours? Is there anything we can improve in the nearest 8 working hours?
  • Planning – what will we do to be closer to the Sprint Goal in next 8 working hours?

Some of these questions may require a bit more analysis. If it happens, then just park the topic and discuss it just after Daily (as a whole team or only with people who can contribute).

It is a common situation that some people from the Scrum Team have quick chat just after Daily Scrum.

Crucial skill expected from Scrum Master is to find a good moment to stop discussion during Daily and postpone it. That way you will teach your team to stick to 15 minutes timebox, but how to do it well – you need to figure it out by yourself and with your team.

Good luck! Should you have other questions about Daily Scrum, feel free to ask leaving a comment. Next week I will answer questions related to the Sprint Backlog.

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