The Daily Scrum — Dos and Don’ts – Part 2

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In Part 1 I touched upon some of the practices that should and should not be done during a Scrum Meeting. In this part I continue to share some of my experiences over the years.

4. Do — Look at everyone while speaking
Quite often, by virtue of their role in the team, the Scrum Master ends up being the cynosure of all eyes. It could also happen if a person of authority is in the team. This could be anyone from a Technical Architect to the Senior Designer or even the oldest member in the team and I don’t mean old in terms of biological age.
Most if not all Scrum team members feel that they should be reporting to this single authoritative figure. The action by itself is not intentional. Studies state that most human beings have evolved to always look out for a leader when the need arises and then mindlessly follow. However remember that the Daily Scrum is not a meeting where you report status to a single person.

If that’s what you thought it is and I’ve seen several managers incorrectly asserting their right to be a part of the Scrum meeting, then you are plain wrong.
The Daily Scrum is where the team rallies around and plans for the day.
Each and every team member is an important cog in the wheel and should be treated so during the meeting.
So the next time round, look at every team member in the eye when it’s your turn to speak at the Daily Scrum.

Maintaining eye level contact with each member while speaking, engages their attention and is a non-verbal cue which can have far-reaching consequences.
The astute ones among us would have certainly noticed subtle nods of support and unspoken acknowledgements when everyone is engaged in this manner and that is a significant indicator of the team spirit that exists.
With high-performing teams this level of engagement will often lead to plans of action that will most certainly enable progress.

Maintaining eye level contact with each member while speaking, engages their attention and is a non-verbal cue which can have far-reaching consequences.

Self-organisation is a dream for many teams but the act of getting everyone to look at everyone while speaking is a small but significant step towards self-organisation and high performance.

5. Do — Listen Actively to a person patiently
Learning to listen is a skill most of us would do well to learn. We are so intent on furthering our own agendas that seldom do we pause to listen to the opinions and thoughts expressed by others. At a Daily Scrum, the purpose of the scrum is lost if each speaker in turn switches off after their respective place under the sun when they tackle the 3 questions. And therein lies the problem. If you treat the Scrum meeting as some sort of status update meeting or even worse as an opportunity to do some grand-standing then you are well on your way to getting certified in misusing Scrum. Read my take on this here.

Treat the Scrum meeting as an opportunity to understand the various pieces of the puzzle. More often than not, Developers do not know what Testers are upto and vice versa. One of the most significant outcomes of following Scrum is the abandonment of working in silos. To attain the state of being a fully performing team, strong pathways and links have to be established between all team members.

To graduate from being just disparate individual contributors to a fully integrated performing team requires every single member to be tuned in and that starts by learning to listen to what every other team member has to say, not just your favourites on the team.

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Learning to actively listen will enable you to understand the project better and provide you with an opportunity to perhaps put your skills to use in other areas of the project.

To attain the state of being a fully performing team, strong pathways and links have to be established between all team members.

Maybe, your suggestion is what the architect needs to solve that nagging problem which has remained unsolved for the past week.
If nothing else, actively listening to every other member speak during the Scrum meeting will prevent you from going off on a tangent.

6. Do Not — Allow outsiders to attend the Daily Scrum
This may a sound childish to start with or even downright anarchic. But hold your horses for just a moment.
The Daily Scrum is strictly meant for members of the Scrum team only. And look up the definition of a Scrum team in the official Scrum guide if you have doubts about the composition of the team.

I have seen over-zealous Project Managers, Product Managers and every one up and down hierarchy wanting to be a part of the Scrum meeting either regularly or occasionally. Their excuses would range from them needing to ensure that the team does not go off the rails to more altruistic concerns like wanting to genuinely help. Well if the team needs help there are other mechanisms to request this and as for ensuring the team doesn’t go off the rails, once again you have a Scrum Master and Product Owner to ensure this. As a manager, trusting your team is paramount not just in Scrum but in any organisational setup.
If you didn’t trust the team then you shouldn’t have given them the job in the first place.

As a manager, trusting your team is paramount not just in Scrum but in any organisational setup.

If trust is destroyed then no trick in your bag is going to help that team, so, managers please keep out or if you are working in a virtual team do not surreptitiously dial in to that conference call and press the mute button. Sadly I’ve seen this happen in more than one organisation irrespective of size or reputation. That’s not ethical and it’s certainly not Scrum.

There are different levels of maturity for a Scrum team and at no level is the Scrum Master to allow the sanctity of the Scrum meeting to be breached by any one other than the Scrum team. This includes so called neutral do-gooders and observers.

You wouldn’t invite an outsider to a family meal to observe how you folks have dinner now would you! In similar fashion, there are various other avenues and mechanisms for team outsiders to understand how your team uses Scrum and the Daily Scrum is not one of them. The Daily Scrum meeting is sacrosanct and allowing outsiders to attend it is only going to serve to distract your team from the critical issues at hand or even worse make them play act for the sake of the curious observer.

You wouldn’t invite an outsider to a family meal to observe how you folks have dinner now would you!

An extremely mature Scrum team as many of you will know does not even require the Scrum Master to be present at the Scrum meeting. That’s right, a Scrum Master has to facilitate a meaningful Scrum meeting and that includes keeping micro-managers, observers, do-gooders and team psychologists at bay during the Daily Scrum meeting.

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An extremely mature Scrum team as many of you will know does not even require the Scrum Master to be present at the Scrum meeting.

A Scrum Master is the last bastion of hope for a Scrum team and so it becomes their sacred duty to function as gatekeepers, maintain the sanctity of Scrum and enforce the inviolable rule that the Scrum meeting is strictly only for the Scrum team.

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