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Mastering the Scrum Stand-Up

Here at XVT, we’ve been doing the traditional scrum stand-ups for several years now. It’s a super important part of the day for our teams. Working together across 3 different locations, the Scrum stand-up provides us with the opportunity to get focused on the days priorities and gain valuable visibility into what the rest of our team mates have planned for the day as well as any issues they’re facing.

We’ve tried a lot of different collaboration tools over the years but still find the face-to-face scrum stand-up every morning the most valuable way to quickly bring our teams up to speed and focused on the days activities. We run seperate stand-ups for each major project we’re working on, so the discussion is focused and relevant to everyone involved.

Having done stand-ups for a while now we’ve come to realise what does and doesn’t work. In this post, we’re going to share what makes our stand-ups run smoothly and what to avoid.

How to run a successful Scrum stand-up.

Keep it time-boxed

The Scrum stand-up shouldn’t run for over 15 minutes. Every stand-up should be facilitated by somebody called the “Scrum Master.” It is part of their role to keep the stand-up moving so all team members get an opportunity to address the agenda items within the time-box.

Stick to the agenda

There are 3 items each team member should address in the stand-up:

  • What did I do yesterday: Summarise what you achieved yesterday.
  • What am I doing today: Summarise what you’ll be focused on today.
  • Are there any blockers: Raise any issues which are preventing you from doing your work and reaching our objectives.

Discuss issues in detail after the meeting

Stand-up is not the place to delve into deeper discussions on specific issues, especially when they don’t concern the entire team. We find deferring issues to seperate huddles after stand-up is most efficient.

Stand-up!

This should be an obvious one, it’s called stand-up for a reason. Having everybody standing creates focus and urgency. If we did these meetings around a table with everyone sitting comfortably it would be tempting to drag discussions on for longer than necessary.

Address the group

The stand-up is all about collaboration with your team. It’s not a meeting where you are addressing a single project manager or team lead. Our team members are reporting to everybody on the team as equally important team members.

How to avoid disrupting your Scrum stand-up:

Distractions

Looking at phones, tablets, laptops is completely unnecessary and a little disrespectful to your fellow team mates.  If the scrum stand-up is time boxed to less than 15 minutes, you should be able to leave your phone behind, no matter how important you are.

Don’t wait for people

If somebody is running late, we don’t wait. Stand-up is one of the most valuable meetings of the day and it occurs at the same time every day. If people can’t make it on time, it shouldn’t hold up the entire group from progressing. Not waiting is also likely to encourage the team member to arrive on time next time.

Bring Executives In

Stand-up is for the team to collaborate and discuss issues with their fellow team-mates in an open and free environment. Bringing in executive level managers can distract from the meetings purpose and discourage team members from raising issues for fear of judgement or retribution.

Let Ramblers Ramble

The aim here is to be short and succinct to make the best use of everybody’s valuable time. It is up to the scrum master to cut ramblers off. Everyone should stick to the simple 3 question agenda, this is not a planning or technical discussion.

Micro-manage team

The scrum-master shouldn’t prompt team members about why they may not have delivered on a task yesterday or why they spent X amount of time on a particular task. Any performance issues should be discussed one-on-one with the team member or as part of the performance review process, not in front of their team mates.

 

We hope taking on these 5 “do’s” and “don’t do’s” will make sure you and the rest of your team get the best value out of the daily Scrum stand-ups.

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