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Scrum is about Daily Planning, not Daily Status

One of my main appreciations for Scrum stems from the fact that every role has clear responsibilities:

Product Owner – his product’s ROI (Return on Investment)
ScrumMaster – his team’s productivity (hence: master of the process)
Development Team – quality and delivery

Scrum asks the Development Team to meet in front of its task board once a day in a meeting called the Daily Scrum and answer four questions:

  • What have I done since yesterday?
  • What will I be doing today?
  • Where do I need help?
  • Is anything impeding my process?

I am not happy with the simplicity of these four questions anymore, as I am encountering too many teams that have fallen into their trap. It seems that they are leading teams to thinking as individual warriors battling through their own jungle of tasks. However, the Daily Scrum is supposed to get rid of individual status reports and move towards planning as a team.

Now how do we do turn a status meeting into an actual planning meeting?

Consider this: you as a Development Team are responsible for the quality and the delivery of your product. You know that the Daily Scrum is a short daily planning meeting in order to achieve your sprint commitment in the best possible way considering your responsibilities. If I were a Development Team member, I would simply change the standard four questions to:

  • What have I done (preferably together with another team member to ensure quality and know-how transfer) since yesterday to finish the user story with the highest business value and thus get closer to our sprint commitment?
  • What will I be doing today (preferably together with another team member to ensure quality and know-how transfer) to finish the user story with the highest business value and thus get closer to our sprint commitment?
  • How can we as a team work together today in order to get the best out of our skills and deliver a product whose quality will make our users proud?
  • Is anything whatsoever hindering or stopping me in order to use my skills and know-how in the best possible way to further my team’s delivery?

Yes, these questions may be longer. Yes, they will take some teams a little bit of time to get used to.

However, I believe that the answers to these questions are the real reason why teams should spend 15 minutes of each day in front of their task board to talk about their shared delivery and the quality of their product increments.

Try it out. Let me know what you think.

  • Tim Bourguignon

    I like the idea, but I think the wording „the user story with the highest business value“ will be counter-productive… at least it has been the most critical pain point in the teams I saw lately.

    I coach Scrum Teams of 6-9 Members and I invariably get comments that the devs need more than one story to work on, or they will „step on each others toes“ and work slower.

    As far as I could observe it, it seems to be true. While there is value in maximizing the business value and swarming to close the „topmost“ story, it is very important to give self organizing teams the freedom to maximize business value output the way they think best.

    I would thus recommend rephrasing the first two questions as follows:
    * What have I done (preferably together with another team member to ensure quality and know-how transfer) since yesterday to ensure the highest business value output possible and thus get closer to our sprint commitment?
    * What will I be doing today (preferably together with another team member to ensure quality and know-how transfer) to ensure the highest business value output possible and thus get closer to our sprint commitment?

    What do you think? Have you observed this as well?