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7 Tips for Improving the Daily Scrum

February 8, 2008 by Artem Marchenko

Daily Scrum also known as daily standup meeting is an important element of the Scrum process. The structure of the meeting is quite rigid and fixed. Everybody has to stand up, meeting should take no longer, than 15 minutes and everybody should answer three questions: "What did you do since the last meeting?", "What are you going to do until the next meeting?", "What impedes you from being more productive?". The purpose of this rigidness is for making sure that daily Scrum is to help team members synchronize between themselves, not to solve problems.

Things to watch during the daily standups are:

1. Standup means stand up, no sitting, really.
Standing up on the daily Scrum draws attention to the brevity of the meeting. The purpose of the meeting is synchronization and no lengthy problem solving. Standing helps to remember that problem solving except the smallest one has to be taken offline - nobody likes to stand for an hour while two guys are arguing about the protocol implementation details.

2. Keep it short. 15 minutes max.

Everybody can spend 15 minutes a day on synchronizing with the others. Especially if it happens to be immediately before or right after the lunch time. Spending half an hour is a very different story. In my experience most of the time the 5-6 person teams are usually done in just 7-10 minutes.

3. Stand in front of the visual progress artifact.
Ideally in front of the task board together with the product and sprint backlog. Visuality and tangibility help discussing things. If task board is used, developers often like waving hands towards the card being currently discussed or even move the cards during this meeting

4. Everybody should be present.
One of the main reasons for meeting live is to utilize as wide communication bandwidth as possible - people are known to communicate more effectively, when meeting live. If particular team member is unable to participate, another person should report on behalf of his/her. If it is impossible for some reason, catch up later.

5. No typing.
Holding a laptop and making notes is power. The one who types immediately starts looking as a manager and often subconsciously starts writing what he thinks was meant, not what team members actually said. If you need notes, take micro-notes by hand.

6. Concentrate on the second and third question, not on the first one.
What's done is more of a context for the second and third questions. The real point is to figure out what's blocking the efficient work and who could help it.

7. If team talks too much to ScM, let him not too look at the team.
Daily standup is for synchronizing between the team members, not between Scrum Master and the team. If team members start behaving as they are reporting to Scrum Master, he can start literally looking at another person or even walk away a little. Such small tricks are often able to confirm that daily Scrum is for the team members and not for the Scrum Master.

Daily Scrum is a powerful tool, but as any other tool it is good, when you know what it's useful for and have some experience in using it. The above seven simple tips can be good starting points or reminders. However, every team knows best how to adjust its standups to serve them better. The important part is the goal, not the method.

Your experience
What feels important in your daily standup?
(Photo courtesy of improve it @ Flickr)

About the Author: As the Editor-in-Chief for, Artem is charged with overseeing the direction for content, advertising, and the overall management of the site. Nowadays in his day life, Artem is a product manager in a global telecommunication company where he leads the development of a product developed in extremely distributed environment. Artem has been applying Agile and researching Agile since 2005. Contact Artem


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