Blog post

Ten Tips for More Effective Daily Scrums

Published on Mountain Goat Software by Mike Cohn

This post was originally published on Mountain Goat Software by Mike Cohn, an experienced Certified Scrum Trainer (CST), author of three popular books, an Agile practitioner and consultant. Mike is also a founder of Mountain Goat Software, an Agile and Scrum training company. 


Mike Cohn wrote ten tips for improving your Daily Scrum meetings.


1. Only Talk About the Work of the Current Sprint Preparation for the Coming Sprint

Discussion should be limited to work team members performed in pursuit of the team’s Sprint goal. Beyond that Mike allows a little bit of discussion about work preparing for the next Sprint.


2. Limit Discussion to What Was and Will Be Accomplished

Instead of asking participants to describe what they did yesterday and will do today, ask instead about what they accomplished and will accomplish. 😊


3. Talk About Impediments, Not “Blockers”

Mike encourages you, though, to stick with impediment. In a Daily Scrum, you don’t want to hear only about things blocking progress. You want to hear about everything that might be impeding progress.


4. Give People Something to Say About Their Work not Directed Toward the Sprint Goal

Sometimes team members have spent a significant portion of the prior day on work that isn’t related to the Sprint goal.

Give team members a phrase to use whenever they worked outside the planned work of the sprint. Mike likes the simple phrase “other stuff.” Allowing this lets the person state that they did more than their goal-related work may indicate. This can help them feel better. It takes essentially no time and can tell a Scrum Master if someone is working too frequently on non-sprint work.


5. Give Team Members a Way to Indicate When Someone Is Rambling

For cases when speakers don’t notice they are going on too long, give team members a way of indicating a person has talked too long. For example, Agile Serbia team members raise one hand when someone talks too long. 😊


6. Have People Point to What They’re Working On

Sometimes in a Daily Scrum it can be hard to understand how one person’s update relates to the Sprint goal or even the Sprint Backlog.

A good solution to this is to ask the person to point to what they’re working on while speaking about it. This is especially easy with a collocated team and a physical task board.


7. Update the Sprint Backlog but Don’t Let Numbers Become the Focus

It is very common in a Daily Scrum to update the Sprint Backlog. Usually this will take the form of someone saying, “And I made good progress on this task here. I think I’ve got about two hours left.” And as the person says that, they cross off the current number and write “2.” Or, if using software, the Scrum Master might update the effort remaining on that task.

This is a good thing for many teams as it helps them assess their progress through the planned work of the sprint. However, you don’t want the Daily Scrum to become all about those numbers.

Mike encourages updating of the Sprint Backlog during the Daily Scrum, including updating any estimates of effort remaining. But don’t let those updates become the focus of the Daily Scrum.


8. Vary How the Daily Scrum Is Conducted

Most Daily Scrums are conducted person by person. You tell us what you did, what you will do, and anything slowing you down. Then I do the same. And so on.

There’s no rule that says you have to do it that way.

Mix it up. Do some of your Daily Scrums backlog item by backlog item. Pick a first Product Backlog item and have everyone say what they did on that item yesterday, will do on it today, and identifying anything impeding progress on that item. Then move onto the next backlog item and repeat.


9. Keep Everyone Guessing as to Who Will Speak Next

When we know it will be our turn to speak next in a meeting, many of us tune out the current speaker while we mentally prepare what we’ll say. To avoid this happening in your Daily Scrums, have the current speaker call on the next speaker. Have a rule that nobody is allowed to simply call on the person next to them. Add a bit of fun by having a person “lose a point” if they call on someone who has already given their update. Add things like if a person loses three points, they have to tell a joke or host the retrospective. The possibilities are endless.


10. Make it Painful (Literally) to Ramble too Long

Bought a small medicine ball, two or three kilograms works nicely. While giving an update, each person holds the ball directly in front of them. For most of us, that weight is just enough to keep us aware when we go on too long. 😀


What tips can you share that have helped with your Daily Scrums? 😊

To read the full blog click on this link. This post was originally published on Mountain Goat Software by Mike Cohn.

Mike Cohn

Mike Cohn

Mike Cohn, an experienced Certified Scrum Trainer (CST), author of three popular books, an Agile practitioner and consultant. Mike is also a founder of Mountain Goat Software, an Agile and Scrum training company.