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Bartosz Mikulski
Bartosz Mikulski

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An efficient daily scrum meeting

What happens during a typical, dysfunctional daily scrum meeting?
Most likely, a bunch of people stands in front of one computer and look at Jira. They also update the task statuses because they were too busy to do it before the meeting.

Every one of them tells what they have done the day before. They say what they would like to do today. Often times, the words they say are "I will do the next task from Jira." Probably nobody dares to mention any problems.

They are not talking to each other. There is someone else in the room. The local demigod with the power to reward for obedience and punish for misconduct. Usually, it is a project manager or product owner. The team looks at her/him and turns the "daily stand-up comedy meeting" into a status report.

At least they are standing. Clearly, standing up is the most crucial part of a daily scrum meeting. Nobody complains about side comments, interrupting, not listening to colleagues, but don't ever try to sit down during the meeting! They will eat you alive!

What happens when the meeting ends? The team meets again because they have to plan the upcoming day. What have they been doing during the last 15 minutes?!

Daily planning meeting

Can we do better? I have a suggestion. First of all, change the name of the meeting. Seriously. I know it is just a name, but words have meaning, and the name influences the attitude you are going to have during the meeting.

It is not a stand-up meeting. Nobody cares if you stand, sit, walk, or jump. If you call it "stand-up," standing up will be the only thing you care about and do correctly.

Instead of that, I propose renaming it to "daily planning meeting." I think it clearly conveys the goal. After all, we are supposed to plan the day.

The meeting itself has to change too. We don't need the (in)famous three questions. Let's start with the first one.

What I did yesterday?

Don't tell us what you did yesterday!

I like to believe that I work with trustworthy adults. This means that if people tell me that they are going to do something, I will assume that they have done it. It also means that if they have any problems with finishing the task, they will notify everybody, so we can deal with it together.

Do I have any problems/blockers?

I don't understand why people answer that question at the end of the meeting (or forget to do it at all). This is the most important one!

If there is a problem, the plan of the whole team may change. It makes no sense first to make a plan and then ask if there is anything more important or something stopping us from achieving the goal. You will need to re-plan the whole day!

That is why talking about the problems should be the first thing we do during the daily planning meeting. If anything is stopping the team from achieving the sprint goal, it should be announced as soon as possible.

What am I going to do today?

After discussing the problems, we can finally plan the upcoming day.

There is one change I want to suggest in this part too. Let's talk only about tasks that contribute to achieving the sprint goal.

One goal

I assume that the team has only one sprint goal. (no cheating! If there is a conjunction in the sprint goal, you have more than one!) I also hope that everyone on the team works on tasks related to that one common goal.

Honestly, I think that if you have multiple goals or some team members work on side-goals, you no longer have a team.

A team without a common goal is just a group of people who happen to be in the same room, use the same Jira, push code to the same repository, and track their work time in the same spreadsheet but don't need to cooperate with each other. Maybe they should attend separate daily planning meetings?

Nothing more

That is all. Looks simple, doesn't it? Change the name. Forget about one question. Reverse the order of the remaining questions. Nothing more.

Looks like a small change, but that small change may help you focus on the critical aspect of your job: achieving the sprint goal.

You are here to get the job done, not to waste time in pointless meetings.

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