10 Tips for a Great Daily Scrum Meeting

The daily scrum meeting is a quick meeting that helps the development team members organize their day. During the daily scrum, team members address three topics:

  • What was accomplished since the last time we met that matters for what we need to do today…
  • What will be done today…
  • What may be in our way…

It’s a powerful tool that keeps your project moving. At the same, it is also easy for the meeting to turn into one of those meetings–meetings that don’t add any value.

To prevent this from happening and to help you optimize your daily scrums, here are 10 suggestions.

10 tips for your daily scrum meeting

  1. Stand physically: There’s a reason we also call this meeting a daily standup. Standing seems to help people focus for short and high-energy sessions, such as the daily scrum. Combining this with the second tip enables you to develop new habits for better engagement.
  2. Gather around the task board: Having people point at the stories they’re talking about is always more powerful than merely mentioning them verbally.
  3. Ask an additional question: In addition to the three topics, also ask: “How confident are you that you will get it done today?” People often complete the third statement by saying they have no impediments, when in reality they do. So, by admitting that they are only 50% confident they’ll complete the story, this uncovers additional insight. Use this if your team members report no impediments for a while, yet work isn’t moving along as fast as it should.
  4. Stick to the 15 minutes time-box: If your meetings take longer than 15 minutes, people will grow bored. They may begin to dismiss the meeting, as having no value. This normally indicates that something is wrong. The team could be too big. Or, team members use the meeting to solve problems instead of simply flagging them.
  5. Start and end the meeting on time: Daily standups often start late because somebody isn’t there. Start on time. Don’t delay because someone isn’t there (including the scrum master). Nothing says, “this meeting is important” more than starting on time, even if two-thirds of the people are not there yet.
  6. Remove distractions: Ensure everybody’s focus is on the meeting. Don’t fiddle around with your phone or answer email. Definitely stop coding. It’s worth it! Staying focused helps the meeting stay short and on track. It also demonstrates respect for your fellow team members.
  7. Defer to the 16th minute: Make sure you don’t use the standup to solve problems. Rather, defer problem-solving to the 16th minute (after the daily scrum). Solving issues is execution work. This is even more important with distributed scrum teams, where you’re meeting is by phone or video conference. This likelihood is more pervasive in the remote work environment.
  8. Keep the team engaged: People bore easily, especially of repetitive things. Spice up the daily scrum meeting a little by introducing some uncertainty. For example, pass around a token indicating whose turn it is to speak. This will keep them on their toes and improve engagement.
  9. Stop attending when it becomes a status update: Should your standup meeting ever turn into one of those meetings, stop attending. Sometimes, voting with your feet is the best way to facilitate change and make people realize something is wrong. And frankly, your time is probably better spent focusing on development anyway.
  10. Say thank you: Whenever a colleague assists you or does something nice, acknowledge it. Nothing builds rapport and a good working relationship more than a simple “thank you!

Need help making the daily scrum part of your day more effective (or any part of your day, sprint or project, for that matter)? We can help. Contact us to learn how.


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