The Daily Scrum serves a single purpose: inspecting the progress toward the Sprint Goal by reflecting on yesterday’s learning. Then, if the need should arise, the Developers adapt their plan to accomplish the Sprint Goal. While the theory may be generally accepted, applying the idea to the practice is more challenging. One of the recurring issues is the continued popularity of the “three Daily Scrum questions” from the Scrum Guide 2017.
Let’s reflect on why answering these obsolete Daily Scrum questions negatively influences the Scrum team.
The Purpose of the Daily Scrum
The purpose of the Daily Scrum is clearly described in the Scrum Guide — no guessing is necessary:
The purpose of the Daily Scrum is to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and adapt the Sprint Backlog as necessary, adjusting the upcoming planned work.
The Daily Scrum is a 15-minute event for the Developers of the Scrum Team. To reduce complexity, it is held at the same time and place every working day of the Sprint. If the Product Owner or Scrum Master are actively working on items in the Sprint Backlog, they participate as Developers.
Source: Scrum Guide 2020.
Therefore, the Daily Scrum is an important event for inspection and adaption, run by the Developers, and guiding them for the next 24 hours on their path to achieving the Sprint Goal. The Daily Scrum is also the shortest planning horizon in Scrum and thus highly effective in guiding the Scrum team’s efforts: focus on the outcome.
The Problem With the 3 Daily Scrum Questions
However, this noble idea is tainted by a widespread habit: centering the Daily Scrum around answering three questions:
- What did I do yesterday?
- What will I do today?
- Are there any impediments?.
Initially, these three Daily Scrum questions were added to the Scrum Guide 2017 as an example of how the Scrum team members may inspect the progress toward the Sprint Goal. However, these three questions quickly became synonymous with the Daily Scrum. So now, it was all about answering these three questions, turning the Daily Scrum into a sort of status report meeting, with Developers waiting in line to “answer these three questions” to the Scrum Master, the Product Owner, or maybe even a stakeholder.
Unfortunately, the “three Daily Scrum questions” appeal to many practitioners: they are simple, efficient, and create a comforting routine. However, as a Scrum team, we care less about detailing our previous work and justifying why we deserve a pay-cheque at the end of the month.
Instead, we want to understand whether we will meet the Sprint Goal. If the Scrum team’s progress is doubtful, given recent developments and learning, we want to take action to get back on track. Any form of a status report is a mere distraction and wasteful in that respect.
Scrum as a practice is outcome-focused; it is not about maximizing the number of tickets accomplished during the Sprint. Instead, as a team, we are interested in achieving the Sprint Goal.
There are endless ways to run your Daily Scrum without falling into this 3-question routine. For example, walk the board and figure out what needs to be done to move the tickets closest to “done” over the finishing line.
Please do yourself a favor and avoid turning your Daily Scrum into a boring reporting session.
How are you running your Daily Scrums? Please share your tips & tricks with us in the comments.
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