The Sprint (part 2/2) – The Daily Scrum

This is the second post about The Sprint in Scrum. Read the first one here.

The Daily Scrum Meeting is the continuous inspection and adaptation mechanism of Scrum. The Team inspects its own efforts, and adapts to new information. To put the Daily Scrum into the larger picture, have a look at this brief overview of Scrum. We’ve arrived at #3 in the list.

The Daily Scrum goes down like this. Everyone gets together for a maximum of 15 minutes in the morning to answer the three following questions to each other.

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What are you planning on doing before the next daily scrum?
  3. What impedes you from performing your work as effectively as possible?

This is coordination (1), planning (2) and continuous improvement (3) packed into a quick small talk session in the morning. We have been discussing the nature and art of software engineering earlier in this blog, and we have claimed our support for the assertion that software engineering is far to complex for deterministic up-front planning. The Daily Scrum embraces this fact, and it establishes mechanisms for Empirical Process Control (EPC). EPC relies heavily on inspection and adaptation mechanisms.

Oh my god. I just realized that the above paragraph is as pompous and boring as it is important. Let’s remove all gobbledygook, and try again.

What I am really trying to convey with the above paragraph is that in order to succeed in anything as complex as software development, you’ll have to talk to your excellent team mates often to stay informed and aligned. The Daily Scrum keeps this communications channel and feedback-loop alive, frequent, brief and structured.

Some rules

In order for the Daily Scrum to be a successful mechanism, we should follow some rules.

Only team members are allowed to talk, and no-one should digress from the three questions above. Only one team member speaks at a time. This is to ensure the efficiency and focus of the meeting not allowing it to grow out of proportions and hurting its intended purpose.

There is no reporting whatsoever. The information is high bandwidth day-to-day, face-to-face. All members should attend, always.

If someone reports anything of interest to other team members, these can get together after the Daily Scrum to discuss matters further. Again, we want to keep the Daily Scrum lightweight and focused. You don’t want everyone to listen to the details of everything, particularly not as the team grows. This will only lead into congestion.

The Daily Scrum is at the same time, at the same place, every day. Everyone is required to attend, and those not precise should be penalized in some way. Putting a dollar (or a femmer) into a bucket to buy Flingo (with added bounce) later, is highly recommended.

That’s the most important simple facts to know about the Daily Scrum.