5 Ways to Improve Daily Scrum Meetings

Updated on February 8, 2018
LLambie profile image

I spent 12 years in IT as a project manager, gaining expertise and certification in both PRINCE2 and Scrum Agile.

5 Ways to Improve Daily Scrums

Getting to Love Daily Scrums

It can be an entertaining moment on a project when a new developer joins a scrum team. For those unfamiliar with scrums, the style can be a little bit alien to an outsider.

When team conversation turns to subjects such as daily scrums and planning poker, eyebrows are raised:

"Planning Poker? I thought this was a serious project!"

Although eye rolling can be a fairly common initial reaction to the cult-like style of a daily scrum, a new project member will often be as hooked as everyone else by the end of their first week. After all, a 15-minute daily scrum is a fantastic way to communicate progress on a project and should be enjoyable for everyone involved.

The Scrum Meeting Agenda

Getting the Most out of a Daily Scrum Meeting

Daily scrum meetings are one of the most effective and popular aspects of the Agile Scrum method of software development. All team members attend and these meetings have a very simple agenda:

1) What did you achieve yesterday?

2) What do you plan to do today?

3) Are there any issues standing in your way?

One of the key characteristics of a daily scrum meeting is the duration. They are only 15 minutes long. Anyone who has ever been involved in a team meeting on a project knows that 15 minutes is short indeed, so you need to have a strategy for making the most of this time. Here are 5 tips that should help you ensure your scrum meetings are as effective as they should be.

1. Be Punctual

A daily scrum is only 15 minutes long, so it goes without saying that wasting 10 minutes of that rounding up your team to attend is not a good use of time. Set an example to everyone by arriving early and ensuring it starts at the same time every day, even if you are still waiting for team members to turn up.

2. Late Penalties

You arrive on time and you start your meeting on time. However, you still struggle to get your team to be punctual. Even worse, some of your team are failing to turn up because they claim to be too busy.

Sound familiar?

There's a very simple solution. At the start of a scrum project, agree together with the team a small fine for anyone who fails to attend a daily scrum or turns up late. A popular idea is a small financial penalty that goes towards the drinks funds for the end of the project celebrations. Whatever you choose to do, you can make it lighthearted and still get a serious point across: attend the meeting or pay the price.

3. Avoid Meeting Rooms

There is a very good rationale for why all daily scrum meetings are stand-up meetings: it stops people talking at length if they are deprived of comfy chairs in which to sit for their long speech.

However, meeting rooms are still the obvious place to hold a daily scrum. But if you do this, the temptation will always be there for people to sit. To avoid this, find an open space instead. Perhaps your office has a spacious reception area. If it's sunny, why not consider holding the meeting outside?

4. Visualize Success

Typically, a team is full of energy at the start of the project, and energy levels tend to drop as the issues start to creep up and the hours take their toll. Its easy to forget why you are doing the project in the first place when you are beset by problems and setbacks.

That is why it is essential to keep your team motivated and regularly remind them of the end goal. A good way of doing this is to keep a visual reminder near to where you conduct your daily scrum meetings, so that your team can see this every day. If you are building a website for example, you can print out an A3 copy of the beautiful designs you are working to.

5. Invite the Boss

This one is a little controversial. Typically, bosses, managers, and senior stakeholders do not get involved in detailed meetings like a daily scrum, because they need progress at a far higher level and may not understand the issues discussed in a daily scrum. Typical scrum training discourages management from being involved in these meetings. However, some limited involvement may actually be good for your project. Managers can get nervous about the progress of a project and allowing them to witness a well run daily scrum can give them some reassurance that things are actually happening.

One word of warning: if you do allow them to attend, ask them not to contribute. They must remain silent. A daily scrum is for the team members to talk, not management.

Summary

A daily scrum meeting is a fantastic way to get your team together and promote communication and if done correctly it takes about the same amount of time as making a large round of coffees. However, you need to make sure it is set up correctly from the start so that your team gets as much value out of them as they can. They should never become just another unproductive meeting to fill up calendar time. Follow these five simple tips, and you will find that daily scrums can become one of the most powerful tools you have on your project.

Do you agree with my five tips? Do you think there is anything I've missed? Add your comments below.

Further reading

Agile Software Development with Scrum (Series in Agile Software Development)
Agile Software Development with Scrum (Series in Agile Software Development)

Written by Ken Schwaber, the original architect of scrum, this is a must-have book for anyone wanting to learn the fundamentals of the methodology.

 

So in reality, how long do scrum meetings typically take?

If you've run daily scrums, do you keep to the 15 minute rule?

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    • profile image

      Kina 

      11 months ago

      Be punctual and... quick. Plan the meeting, according to the questions you proposed above or the ones mentiones in many materials like https://kanbantool.com/kanban-library/implementing... and don't make it a waste of time, like @jay said... 15 minutes is maximum IMO.

    • profile image

      Hannah 

      3 years ago

      I would like to focus on point 4 - Visualize success. If you ask me, the best motivator is the visualization of the whole process and not the end results. To accomplish this, I use the Kanban Tool ( http://kanbantool.com/), which is a method going one step further than Scrum.

    • LLambie profile imageAUTHOR

      Lauren 

      5 years ago from UK

      I've seen the same before Jay so I sympathise! Designers tend to come under a lot of pressure to get their work done quickly because there is a misconception that it is holding up the coding work, when in reality: quality design = efficient development

    • profile image

      jay 

      5 years ago

      As the sole designer on a team of developers I find these meetings difficult. Everyday I have to state "Well I was working on these mockups... blah blah" knowing that developers think it's all bs and a waste of time. Design gets in the way of the real deal.

    • LLambie profile imageAUTHOR

      Lauren 

      5 years ago from UK

      Thanks Mel. Most web developers I know loathe meetings as it takes them away from their work, but they've all really enjoyed scrum ones!

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      5 years ago from San Diego California

      As an aspiring web developer I think I could benefit from this. Meetings tend to get long winded, boring, unproductive, and demoralizing, and keeping it to a hard 15 minutes is a great idea. Thanks for the advice.

    • LLambie profile imageAUTHOR

      Lauren 

      5 years ago from UK

      Thank you!

    • jabelufiroz profile image

      Firoz 

      5 years ago from India

      Great ways. Voted up.

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