Three Questions In Your Daily Scrum That Aren’t Working

Are you asking three questions in your Daily Scrum? Are you getting three good answers? Are you effectively measuring progress?

As an agile consultant, I’ve witnessed many Scrum teams struggle to see the value of the Daily Scrum. When I hear this complaint I always ask how their typical Daily Scrum goes. The problem can be summarized in this short exchange:

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Team member: “Everyone goes around the room and says what they did yesterday, what they did today, and if they have any blockers.”
Me: “Do they usually have blockers?”
Team member: “Not really”
Me: “Do people find value in this meeting?”
Team member: “Not really.”

The point of the Daily Scrum is for the Development Team to measure progress toward the Sprint Goal. Asking “the three questions” is a commonly used method, and one suggested by the Scrum Guide. While a good starting point, the three questions method can quickly get old.

A format I recommend to teams when things get stale is one of visualization. Stop asking the three questions and instead, look at your Sprint burn-down chart and look at the Scrum board. Any decent ALM tool like Jira, TFS, Rally, etc.. will offer these tools for free. It’s pretty easy for everyone to see how they are trending toward the end of the Sprint using these tools. Many impediments that were once ignored become obvious in the form of plateauing burn-downs and Scrum boards with everything stuck in ‘Doing’.

Making work visible generally creates transparency about what is being done, progress being made, and who or what team is working on critical components should questions arise. For new Scrum Teams, creating a team room with a big team wall coated in whiteboard paint is a great way to enable and encourage teams and team members to visualize everything to create that transparency.  By visualizing the work the entire team can see what’s happening and ask the right questions to get back on track.

I see the Sprint burn-down and the Scrum board as comparable to a score board in sports. Any team member can see the current score, how far ahead or behind the team might be, and how much time the team has before the game is over. As in sports, working as a team using the information provided in the Sprint burn-down and making changes based on what they learn Scrum teams win more often.

Are your Daily Scrums becoming of little value? Contact us for more fresh ideas.

Robert Pieper

I like Metalcore, and cupcakes.