The Scrum Guide states the Daily Scrum is an event which the Development Team plans work for the next 24 hours.  Far too often teams are working on a mixture of items that are not related to each other or are assigned to team members which locks in boundaries between people.  The day-to-day microplanning envisioned by the authors of the Scrum Guide slip through the team’s fingers and land directly on sharing status especially when driven by the classic three questions:

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What are you going to do today?
  3. What is blocking your progress?

One technique that shows promise for resetting the stand-up meeting is to change the questions set used to drive the collaboration. A question set that I have experimented with that changes the focus in scenarios where teams are working on disparate or only vaguely related work items is as follows:

  1. What did I do yesterday that will impact any of you today or tomorrow?
  2. What am I going to do today that will impact any of you or cause you concern today or tomorrow?
  3. What am I not doing that you expected me to do?
  4. What is blocking progress?

The questions specifically target getting the team to identify areas where coordination and collaboration are necessary.  Chelsea Hagan, Scrum Master at Hyland Software feels that the questions “really drives conversation and accountability.” She suggests a further twist by having each person ask question 3 instead of providing an answer unbidden.  Finally, Chelsea suggests capping the stand-up by having the Scrum Master ask, “what is blocking progress?”

Tom Henrickson,  IT Career Coach at MyITCareerCoach.com, suggests leveraging the new questions as one set rotating series of questions.  Conceptually this approach is similar to rotating different types of retrospectives. Rotating the approach keep the process fresh and helps the team from falling into the status trap.  

A stand-up, done well, is a powerful tool to help mold and guide teams.  Joseph Hurtado, Software Engineering Manager  stated that the “Daily Scrum’s purpose is not a status report, it  is to communicate, help each other, and build team spirit!” Simply put, if you want to improve efficiency, break the status meeting habit.