Outsiders

The Scrum or daily stand-up meeting has a fairly structured format within the Scrum framework. Many teams make slight tweaks to make the process work better due the variations in teams and environments. However, allowing non-team members to actively participate in the stand-up is not a process tweak that ever makes sense. Stand-ups are the planning and synchronization meeting for the team. Adding active outside participants changes the dynamic. The meetings typically become more akin to a status update, or worse, an interrogation. It is difficult to collaborate when you are defending what you are working on. When planning and synchronization are impeded, the team will deliver less value than should be possible.

When the stand-up shifts from a team meeting to an open meeting all sorts of changes happen. From a purely mechanical point of view two large changes can take the process off track instantaneously. First, less emphasis is placed on the planning and synchronization portions of the meeting, assuming the time box of 15 minutes is respected. There just isn’t enough time if the conversation shifts to providing status or dealing with external interrogation of team members . Second, if the meeting is given more time the participants’ attentions will wander. Both are problematic, but remember, once the collective attention spans have been breached the effectiveness of the meeting is shot. Simply put, when team members stop paying attention to each other information sharing stops. How many times have you heard someone say “we talked about that this morning” only to be met with a blank stare?

The basic technique for a stand-up meeting states that anyone can attend the stand-up, if the team is comfortable with their attendance. While this might seem like a contradiction, attendance and participation are different activities. Only the team (product owner, Scrum Master and team members) can participate (read participate as talk). Tweaks to the process that expand participation past the team are simply a mistake.

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