Does your daily standup often take longer then 15 minutes? Do you often get bored during an(other) endless discussion at the daily standup? Time to think again about your daily standups!

Back to the basics.

So back to the basics, what are the daily standups all about? The answer to this is very simple; The scrum team meets every day at the same time (and mostly at the same location) and each teammember reports their progress. Each teammember answers the following questions and no more then this!

  • What have I been doing since the last standup?
  • What will I be doing today?
  • Do I encounter any impediments?

Stick to these questions, and no more then that. Any other discussions should be taken outside the daily standup. Keep in mind that most of the time a discussion is only interesting for a few teammembers and not the whole team. I have attended daily standups with discussions taking over 10 minutes between 2 developers, no explanation needed that most of the other teammembers got bored and started checking their Phone. Keep focus on these 3 questions and let the standup last not longer then 15 minutes.

Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

I have attended  so many daily standups already and the one thing I noticed the most is that the teammembers always line up the same way every day. For example; Member A (tester), Member B (tester), Member C (Developer), Member D (Developer), Member E (Developer). This is not a bad thing but I noticed that when Member A was doing the talking then the only one actively listening was member B. But when it was member C turn member A and B where the ones who “leaned back” and member D and E suddenly started awakening. The reason behind this was that the testers discussed in more detail their work being done which the developers felt less involved with and the developers discussed coding difficulties which was less interesting for the testers.

Making it interesting and fun again.

We resolved the above behavior by sticking to the 3 questions and keeping details out of the daily standup. We more or less made it a team effort to get a Userstory to done as soon as possible by only naming what we have done and what we still needed to do. Remember: the standup is all about progress! Everyone understood the goal, sticking to this and not to the details made it more interesting for everyone. We eventually cheered when we got to burn down a userstory. By doing this we felt more that this was done by the team instead of a tester approving if the userstory was done or not.

Another thing to make the standup more interesting is by using a ball (any small ball will do) to throw at the person you want to hear next. By using this ball it was not nessacary to get the team line up differently every time. Trying to get the line up mixed is more difficult as people seem to stick with habbits. So the scrummaster throws the ball (gently if you will) to the first person, after answering the 3 questions he or she throws it to anyone he or she likes to hear next. Since most of the people would like to have fun at work, consider throwing the ball (gently!) to the one who is just taking a zip of coffee and see what happens 🙂

Another thing we noticed is that some persons liked to be talking, more then absolutely nessacary for a standup meeting. So we set a max of 2 minutes of talking per person. It should easily be possible to answer the three questions in 2 minutes. Any impediments or problems to be discussed where taken/discussed directly after the standup and only the people involved attended.

Set an example by being prepared. One year ago I’ve been added to an existing scrum team with a project almost ready to ship their version 1.0. During the standups I noticed that a lot of people had to remember what they had done yesterday. What I already did before was writing my activities done in just a few words on a sticky note. For example:

  • Tested US-123
  • Helped with unit tests US-456
  • Automated acceptence test US-789

I didn’t have to hasitate a while before informing my colleagues what I have been doing and what task(s) I will be picking up next. After a few daily standups more and more of my collegues done the same thing. This reduced the total time for the standup. Besided that it is very helpfull to have a short list of your activities ready so that you don’t have to recap all the things you’ve done when an other teammember is reporting his progress.

Ever had problems with your daily standup? Please let me know in a comment!

Hope you enjoyed!