7 Tips for a More Effective Daily Scrum

The main purpose of the Daily Scrum is for team members to make and follow-up on commitments to one another that work towards the team’s shared sprint commitment. If your Daily Scrum has become unfocused, too long, or otherwise ineffective, here are seven ways to get it back on track.

1. Do it around the task board. Have team members point at stories and tasks on the task board as they talk about their work. This keeps the focus on work for the sprint and makes it obvious when the talk becomes unrelated to the sprint.

2. Change the questions. In “One Word Can Change Your Daily Scrum” I described a way I like to change the three Daily Scrum questions to focus the team on getting things done.

3. Don’t show up. If your Daily Scrum has turned into a status report to the ScrumMaster, try taking a few days off. Let the team report to each other instead of you. Aaron Sanders has more here. Less dramatic ways to have the same effect are avoiding eye contact or stepping outside the circle. But sometimes dramatic is necessary to shake things up.

4. Don’t talk. If you’re not taking sprint tasks, you don’t need to answer the three questions. Emphasize that by not talking at all during the Daily Scrum. Use non-verbal communication when necessary, but keep your mouth shut.

5. Use a parking lot. There are legitimate things for a team to talk about in the morning that don’t fit the tightly-defined purpose of the Daily Scrum. Use a parking lot (i.e. a flip chart or section of a whiteboard) to capture those topics. Address them right after the Daily Scrum is over. You can even let team members add items to the parking lot outside of the meeting to be addressed in the next “parking lot time.” That way, they’re not trying to remember their parking lot topic when they should be paying attention to the Daily Scrum.

6. Actually stand. It shouldn’t be necessary for us to stand to have a short, high-energy meeting, but it really seems to help. If your team has started sitting for the Daily Scrum and it’s running longer than 15 minutes, it might be time to try standing again. Set an example by standing for the whole meeting, and maybe ask one or two influential team members to do the same. Combining this with #1 makes it feel less awkward.

7. Pass a token. Jason Yip describes how introducing randomness and play into the Daily Scrum by tossing a ball to the next person to speak can add energy to the meeting.

What else have you done to keep your Daily Scrum effective? Share in the comments.

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  1. Sorry to say that I feel your something is not good in no # 4. Don’t talk.
    Why keep your mouth shut. ? When you SM and work with a team and responsible for all your act you have to communicate with other and want to know about their work. During the conversation you know their issues and guide them properly.

    1. When one person talks for 5 minutes in a 10-person meeting, they are using 50 minutes of company time. Can you save time with a splinter group or one-on-one? By going to the subject-matter expert directly, you may reduce that to 10 minutes and clarify in the Story or Task with writing so others can understand.

  2. Richard, good article, however, I disagree with point number 4 (don’t talk) above.

    If you are part of a development team and you don’t have a task to talk about on a day, it may mean that you are free for that day.

    It is still worth mentioning what you are working or not working on, or even if available for a task so that the team and the ScrumMaster are informed of your availability.

    In any case, a scrum team member that is not part of the development or who is not taking a sprint task does not necessarily have to attend the daily scrum meeting.

  3. Nice article. #4 is important because, as you say: if you’re not taking sprint tasks, don’t talk during standup.

    We don’t want passersby taking over standup meetings. They can talk to the team one on one or in the parking lot in fifteen minutes.

    Richard, would you be interested in coming onto the Agile Thoughts podcast and do a lightning talk on this? https://agilenoir.biz/series/agile-thoughts/