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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Automating the Daily Scrum?

I’m often asked by teams starting Scrum “can we substitute the use of a software tool for the Daily Scrum?”. My answer is always an emphatic “No!”.

The Daily Scrum is not simply a meeting to update task hours. Its Daily Scrum’s purpose is for the team to frequently inspect their progress and make commitments to each other about the work to be done towards their agreed goal.

It takes awhile for teams new to Scrum to understand the purpose of the Daily Scrum. With their previous process, tasks may have been estimated and assigned to individuals by managers. How the tasks came together to fulfill larger goals was not the responsibility of the people working on them. Scrum turns that upside down. The team is given total responsibility for the tasks and how to accomplish the larger goal. This requires a different mindset for the team that is new to Scrum to learn. It’s not easy to learn. There are years of muscle memory to overcome. This is why the Daily Scrum seems wasteful at first. People think it’s about the task hours.

Effective Scrum teams don’t focus on the hours. Their Daily Scrum is a beehive of activity that focuses on what everyone is doing to accomplish the goal and what the problems are that need to be fixed. I call these “effective” teams rather than “experienced” teams, because I’ve seen some teams that have been using Scrum for years and never get to this level. It’s the role of the Scrum Master to push the team to being effective.

Teams that are new to Scrum that ditch the Daily Scrum in favor of a tool are potentially killing themselves at the starting gate.

4 comments:

Rob Zepeda said...

Have you seen any successful implementation of SCRUM using video conferencing or in some other distributed work environment?

Clinton Keith said...

I haven't "seen" one, but I have spoken with people on distributed teams that hold conference calls once or twice a day.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha, so funny! This qualifies as a daily wtf for agile...

Mark Stringer said...

A really important aspect of Agile is to understand the limitations of the written word (http://www.agile-lab.co.uk/2008/03/agile-keeping-conversation-going.html). That's why we have the meetings.

Maybe the way to explain this to people who think about the world in engineering terms is to talk about bandwidth.

You hear various figures about what proportion of human communication is body language, what proportion is intonation, what proportion is in the actual words. But it doesn't really matter, some percentage of communication is body language, some percentage is intonation. If you have a piece of software instead of a meeting, you're communicating through a narrower pipe.

If you have stand up meetings and you hear someone saying "Yesterday I tried to get the server up and running, today, I'll still be trying to get the server up and running." and they're looking at the floor and sound like Eeyore (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eeyore) this tells you something that the text on it own would say.