Avoid Problem-Solving during Daily Scrum

One of the most important practice in Scrum is the Daily Scrum. This 10-15 minutes meeting, kept at the beginning of the day, has the main objectives to capture the current project status (What have you done yesterday?), the immediate planning (What you will do today?) and the blocking issues that are affecting the development process (Is there anything that affects your work?). Each member, one at the time, of the Scrum Team is answering to these three questions, while the Scrum Master is recording the status and the issues and sees for solutions.

Due to its objectives this meeting cannot be used to address problems in details and to try to resolve it. This is one of the main pitfalls of this practice: people are trying to solve the problem during the meeting, when they hear about it. That makes the meeting to take longer and lose its purpose.

Some of the most common issues that might appear and tend to block the Daily Scrums are:

1.  Another team member has the solution

·      A team member presents an issue on which another team member has the solution for. In this case, the second one should just announce that he can help on that, and the discussion will continue between the two after the meeting. This will also avoid wasting the time of all the other team members. The Scrum Master should ensure that the solution is not discussed in the Daily Scrum.

2.   A team member does not know what he will do next

  • ·     This ends up with re-planning session on the spot. This is very tricky because one might think a quick suggestion about what task to undertake will solve quickly the issue and the meeting will not be affected. But the fact is the other team members might get used to this approach and is the role of Scrum Master to control it by recommending to continue the discussion after the Daily Scrum.

3.   A disagreement about what to do next appears.

  • ·     Sometimes different approaches are proposed for the same problem. This is difficult to undertake by the Scrum Master. Is somehow in the nature of the individuals that you cannot progress further if the disagreements are not resolved first. One approach would be to encourage both approaches to be attempted and avoid debating on which one to undertake. Once the approaches are implemented is much easier to analyze and decide instead of debating on theoretical arguments.

4.  A team member doesn’t seem to have something to report

  • ·    While another one is eliciting more information from the first one. Sometimes, people are unconformable sharing information about the work they do in an open manner, with all the others. This is a clear indication that the team doesn’t have the capacity to self-organize, and the Scrum Master should take up this with the individual immediately after the meeting.

Finally, sometimes, because the Daily Scrums are taking too long, it is decided not to have them daily anymore. This is not a pitfall but a bad consequence of the previous pitfalls. Unfortunately, making the meetings rarer makes them also much longer. In time, they will become into the classical weekly meetings where status is reported to the team leader.

If the team has problems in managing correctly the Daily Scrum, this aspect should be addressed during Sprint Retrospective. There is the place to analyze and decide together how to avoid the pitfalls and get the benefits from doing correct Daily Scrums.

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