Sunday, April 29, 2012

Daily Stand-up Starter Kit

The Daily Stand-up can be one of the easiest or hardest Agile practice to do well.  When introducing the Daily Stand-up (aka, Daily Scrum or huddle), the initial goal is to get people to share their progress in a brief manner.  The focus should be on:
  • What I did yesterday (or since the last time the team met)?
  • What I will do today (or until the team meets again)?
  • What impediments have I uncovered?  
One challenge is when either the expression of these three questions are too vague (e.g., yesterday I work on the same user story) or too detailed.  Enough details should be shared to ensure people understand what was worked on (e.g., yesterday I would on opening the port to allow communications to occur) or what will be worked on (e.g., today I will work on setting up the asynchronous protocol and set a test packet through the port).  To keep from going too long, an initial helpful instruction is for each team member to limit their progress to about 1 minute.


Part of the initial adoption of the Daily Stand-up is simply getting them to go from one person to another and provide their daily progress. A challenge is when the team members expect the Scrum master to tell them when their turn is.  Instead, consider a round-robin approach where you identify an order amongst the team to share progress. This can be alphabetical by name or around the virtual table by site. Another helpful technique is ensuring each person introduces themselves with their name (e.g., I am Mario…) and ending with a code-word such as “Thank you” or “I’m done”, to let the next person know it is his or her turn.  This is particularly useful in a distributed team setting.

Another challenge is that too many team members direct their progress to the Scrum Master.  Instead, the team should communicate to each other and avoid directing their progress to the ScrumMaster. This allows all teams members to know what each other is doing and promotes cross-team communication.

Once the team has a good handle on the daily stand-up, it can be helpful to evolve the process via the Retrospective. This helps the team reflect on the Daily Stand-up and determine if it is satisfying the needs of the team. For example, you may want to view the stories in the sprint backlog in a priority order and ask those that are working on the highest priority work to share their brief status. The benefit of this is that the team can more readily be aware if the highest priority work is getting done. Because the Agile mindset focuses us on working on the priority work first, this ensures that the status sharing is focused on the highest priority work first and then so on. This also provides more visibility when the highest priority stories are not getting done especially when others are getting done. It then can help you rally resources around the higher priority work that isn’t done.

The key is to adopt, reflect, and adapt. Good luck on your Daily Stand-up journey. How do you conduct your Daily Stand-up and have you evolved it over time? If so, in what ways did you evolve it?