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Imagine we are part of a basketball team in the middle of a very important game. To get ready for the game, the team practiced together, learned about their opponents, saw movies about them, and planned a winning strategy. Mid-game, something happens that might risk our win. We ask for a timeout to quickly change our strategy. Then, we do a short and efficient discussion. All the players understand and adapt to the changes, everyone is on the same page, and we are ready to score!
Now, Imagine the game is a sprint, and the timeout meeting is a daily meeting. We want the daily meeting to be short and effective, in order to help us understand as quickly as possible what is going on, what is our changed strategy for delivering value, who are we dependent on, what other risks do we have. Mostly, we want everyone to be on the same page and be ready to score.
So, how do we manage a daily meeting successfully?
First, we need to understand why dailies are important.
Dailies keep the team focused on delivering value. It should not be a way to track personal progress. If we focus on value, we keep moving in the right direction. If we focus on personal progress, we might end up with a lot of progress in the wrong direction. We surely don’t want that…
Sprint backlog priorities are a must. Make sure you focus on the most important stories first. We want to find impediments on the high-value issues as fast as possible and have time for possible fixes.
Always focus first on the items that the team is currently working on. Make sure you make a team effort to finish those before moving to new items.
The real super-power of a good team comes when all people feel comfortable to be involved with all items discussed. We want them to use their different perspectives to align their tasks to the sprint goal.
Help the team by using visible tools to capture their progress.Use the team’s board, CI/CD status, burn charts, and any other tool you can think of to visualize their progress over the sprint.
Whenever a team starts discussing issues that are out of scope, make sure everyone feels comfortable to point it out. A good practice is to use the “parking lot” technique to “park” issues that can be discussed later by a smaller group. Keep moving to issues that affect all, we want to understand as a team that we have an impediment, but we don’t need to fix it as part of the meeting. Instead, we can park it and decide who is going to try and solve it.
End the meeting with an overview of the sprint’s burn chart. Make decisions based on it, and keep people thinking about tomorrow. In particular, what can we do today to avoid surprises tomorrow?
Here are some guideline questions to help you start:
What was accomplished yesterday?(instead of what did we do yesterday?)
What will be accomplished today? (instead of what am I going to do today?)
Is anything blocking your progress? (If any blockers appear, these should be talked about first in the daily)
What are our next steps regarding the current user story? (eg: deployment, sandbox testing review, and such)
There are no exact recipes for creating an effective daily meeting. Each team is different, and there is no solution that works for all. As a scrum team, you should be experimenting to find the perfect fit for you, but we hope that this article gave you some ideas.
Start small, pick one or two items to focus on, and start experimenting.