Probably the most visible component of Scrum is the daily Agile standup meeting. There are groups I’ve met that claim they are doing agile due to the mere presence of this one meeting. It’s as if people think that adopting a quick 15 minute meeting is the answer to every dysfunction in their organization. Bad requirements, no business strategy, terrible architecture, no unit tests? No problem, let’s just get together for 15 minutes a day and that should fix everything. You think I’m kidding?
Even if folks get that adopting agile is more than adopting a daily stand-up meeting, stand-up meetings often devolve into a total waste of time. Why? Somehow the daily stand-up meeting became about the three questions. We are advised that in every daily Scrum each team member is supposed to answer three questions: what did I do yesterday, what did I do today, and do I have any impediments? How often have you had a team tell you there are no impediments and totally fail delivering their sprint?
There is nothing inherently wrong with having a daily stand-up, it’s a great practice. The thing you have to realize though is that three questions are just a starter kit. They help you understand the kinds of things you might want to talk about, they are not the reason you meet for your daily meeting. As a Scrum team, you have made a commitment to your customer, and to yourselves, to deliver a certain amount of product at the end of the sprint. The daily Scrum is a recurring opportunity for the team to get together and discuss their progress against that shared commitment.
If we approach Scrum with a mindset that says there is no such thing as your work or my work, there is only our work. If we approach Scrum with a mindset that says there is no such thing as untested software. If we can acknowledge that no developer can be done until everyone on the team is done, the daily stand-up meeting begins to take on whole new meaning. There is a sense of urgency around the meeting, we have to talk, we have to touch base, we need each and every one of us to be successful.
Running good standup meetings is seldom really about the standup itself. More often than not, it’s about the quality of backlog, the way we do sprint planning, how well we are working together to swarm around backlog item, how committed we are to each other for shared outcomes, and what is expected when we ultimately do the demo. If you get the fundamental stuff straight, good daily stand-up meetings usually follow.