When I walk away from a Daily Scrum, I am usually thinking one of three things:
- “Let’s do this!!!” (I know what the team’s mission for today is and am confident they will complete it)
- “Meh.” (The team has a plan for today but creating it wasn’t pretty)
- “What the crap just happened?!?” (The team doesn’t have a plan and didn’t even get close to creating one)
What determines how I react to a Daily Scrum? It usually boils down to how well a team achieved these seven goals:
- Inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal
- Plan for today
- Identify impediments
- Make daily forecasts
- Create healthy peer pressure
- Limit work in progress
Inspect Progress Toward the Sprint Goal
The purpose of a Sprint is to achieve the Sprint Goal by getting Product Backlog items done. Inspecting progress toward that goal keeps the team centered on what is important and avoids “death by tasks” (diving too far into details and losing sight of the big picture).
Plan for Today
The purpose of the Daily Scrum is to create a plan for the next 24 hours. If a team fails to accomplish this, the Daily Scrum is unsuccessful.
Creating a plan for the next 24 hours means that the team knows who will be working on what and how they will work together to accomplish the Sprint Goal. It does not mean that every programmer announces every file or line of code they will be changing, but it does mean that they identify what tasks they will be working on and whom they will be working with.
Although serious impediments can and should be raised at any time, the Daily Scrum is the perfect time to identify things that are blocking the progress on Product Backlog items because impediments affect the plan for the day.
Note that the goal is to identify impediments and not solve impediments. Sometimes a team member can solve a peer’s impediment with a five word response. There’s obviously nothing wrong with that, but what we are trying to avoid is having a three minute problem-solving session in the middle of a planning meeting. Not only does it waste the team’s time, but it disrupts the flow of the meeting and usually frustrates at least half of the team.
Make Daily Forecasts
Each teach member identifies what he or she will be working on, forecasts when it will be done, and commits to working studiously on it.
Making daily forecasts is required for a team to successfully create healthy peer pressure.
Create Healthy Peer Pressure
Great Scrum teams create healthy peer pressure by holding each other accountable for what they said they would do. If a team member says they will get the same thing done two days in a row without asking for help, someone on the team needs to ask, “What help do you need?”
It is important for this to not degrade into finger-pointing. Scrum is used in complex environments and the work being done is inherently uncertain at some level. Just because someone thinks they can get something done within one day does not mean they will not run into unexpected things that will prevent them from getting that work done. But without team members setting some expectation of what they think can get done, there will be fewer opportunities for identifying when someone is getting stuck.
Limit Work in Progress
This means finishing one thing instead of starting three more. This applies to both Product Backlog items and tasks.
If you want the theoretical reason for why this is important, check out Little’s Law.
Focus allows Daily Scrums to be run effectively and efficiently, and it sets the tone for the rest of the day.
Anti-Goals of the Daily Scrum
What happens when a team doesn’t achieve the goals of the Daily Scrum? Read about it here.