Daily SCRUM meeting rules

Properly conducted daily scrum meetings or scrums is the most important, most recurring ceremony within the scrum framework which has the power to drive things forward. That realization drives me to update this page at regular intervals.

Last updated on 08/Sep/2020.

The daily scrum meeting, also known as the daily stand up meeting is time boxed to 15 minutes regardless of the number of team members. This automatically restricts the team size to be less than 10, so that each person gets at least one and half minutes to update the status of his / her work to the rest of the team. Very long, daily scrum meetings is a waste of time in the eyes of the team members, and demotivates the team members in the longer run. Hence it becomes imperative to manage the daily scrum meetings (also known as daily scrums), according to the scrum meeting guidelines.

  • Fixed venue and time – Hold the daily scrum in the same place at the same time every work day. The daily scrum is best held first thing in the day so that the first thing team members do on arriving at work is think of what they did the day before and what they plan to do today. If the meeting is an online meeting, then have a fixed link to the meeting. It is useful to have a reminder system to remind people of the meeting and time. This will improve participation especially when team members are working remotely.
  • Full attendance – All team members are required to attend. If for some reason a team member cannot attend in person, the absent member must either attend by phone or by having another team member report on the absent members status.
  • Promptness – Team members must be prompt. Remember, the only thing non-negotiable in scrum is ‘time’. So, be on time, to start the meeting on time. Making others wait for you is not a good indicator of ‘mutual respect’, which is one of the pillars of scrum framework. The the daily scrum starts at the appointed time regardless of who is present. There is no room for habitual late comers in scrum teams.
  • Circular Team formation – Scrum teams are self organizing, hence there is no room for command and control. In order to protect the teams from command and control freaks, the teams must stand in a circular formation, so that there is no boss – subordinate relationship. In a circular formation, there is no room for hierarchy.
  • Auto starter mode – Who will start the meeting in a self organizing team?. Once the meeting begins the meeting proceeds in a counter clockwise direction or on a clockwise direction from the starter of the meeting. Be consistent with any one of these patterns, so that unwanted repeated reminders and instructions can be avoided. In virtual meetings also having a norm to to speak improves efficiency of the meeting.
  • Focus – During the 1.5 minute individual window for each team member during the meeting, each team member should respond to the following three questions only:
    • What did I do yesterday regarding the project?
    • What am I intending to do between now and the next scrum meeting?
    • What are the challenges I am facing and need support?

Other points

  • Team members should not digress beyond answering these three questions into issues, designs, discussion of problems, or gossip. The scrum master is responsible for moving the reporting along briskly, from person to person.
  • During the daily scrum, only one person talks at a time. That person is the one who is reporting his / her status. Everyone else listens. There is no side conversations.
  • When a team member reports something that is of interest to other team members or needs the assistance of other team members, any team meber can immediately arrange for all interested parties to get together after the daily scrum to set up a meeting.
  • Chickens (observers who are not part of development team) are not allowed to talk, make observations, make faces or otherwise make their presence in the daily scrum meeting obtrusive.
  • Chickens stand on the periphery of the team so as not to interfere with the meeting
  • If too many chickens attend the meeting, the scrum master can limit attendance so that the meeting can remain orderly and focused.
  • Chickens are not allowed to talk with team members after the meeting for clarification or to provide advice or instructions.
  • Those who cannot or will not conform to the above rules can be excluded from the meeting
  • For virtual scrum meetings, as far as possible make it mandatory to switch the cameras on to facilitate face to face communication.

Symptoms of dysfunctional scrum meetings (daily stand up meetings)

Here are the symptoms of dysfunctional daily scrum meetings one can observe without intervening with the team’s work;

  1. Long stand up meetings which far exceeds the allocated time of 15 minutes
  2. The scrum master / product owner standing on one side, and the rest of the team standing on the other side facing the scrum master / product owner.
  3. Scrum master / Product owner asking questions and giving solutions to the team even when none asked for help.
  4. Combining scrum meeting and the problem solving together
  5. Some of the key team members on mobile or on other urgent work
  6. Switching into sprint review mode
  7. Half the team sitting down and half standing up during the meeting
  8. Team members waiting for the scrum master to start the meeting
  9. Discussions digress into non sprint related topics
  10. Insufficient attention
  11. Frequent meeting cancellations
  12. Frequent rescheduling of meetings

Reference : ‘Agile project management with SCRUM’ by Ken Schwaber

Read also

The sprint planning meeting guidelines

My online scrum training for teams

28 Replies to “Daily SCRUM meeting rules”

  1. Consider changing the questions to “What did you *complete* yesterday?” etc. rather than “What have you done…?” This focuses the meeting on results over busyness. I’ve seen many Scrum teams fill the Daily Scrum with so many details about all the things they were busy doing that they never get around to making and following up on commitments to one another, which is the real purpose of the meeting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If you start with the person to your left, how do you proceed “counter-clockwise”?

    Is everyone standing on the ceiling??

    Like

  3. “Chickens are not allowed to talk with team members after the meeting for clarification or to provide advice or instructions.”

    The purpose of scrum is to foster team communication efficiently. The rules for chickens and pigs allow the scrum to be efficient. However, to ban communication *after* the scrum is ridiculous. If I as a team-member bring up a task that I should not be doing or intend to go about doing the wrong way, I fully expect to be corrected after the scrum by whomever.

    Non communication is the key to project failure.

    Like

  4. The SCRUM appears to show that folks are busy but it doesn’t tell us if they working on the right things at the right time. I’m interested in how you determine if folks are starting or finishing on time.

    Like

  5. Hi,

    This is Krepesh. I am a painter illustrator and cartoonist. I got an assignment from a US client, to draw a cartoon greeting card with the theme ” Santa doing the daily scrum”. But, first of all, I had to study what is “daily scrum”. I got all the information required from your site.

    Many thanks.

    Krepesh

    http://www.krepesh.com

    Liked by 1 person

  6. in scrum meeting, can you report as “We” instead of “I”. our lead uses to report the team status and not his specific tasks. so, when our turn, we are just mirroring what he said. or something saying “as he said. nothing to add on.”

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    1. The very intent of the daily stand up meeting is to update the status of the project to the rest of the team. The very fact that your team lead (scrum master) knows the status before the meeting itself, and him starting with the status update tells me that there is a parallel system running. The best solution is to stop the practice of updating the team lead of the work status before the daily scrum, and do not allow him to give the status update of the project. It becomes easier by replacing the ‘we’ with Í

      Like

  7. Hi
    What metrics can be used to measure progress during a sprint?
    How can the progress be visualised?
    How are the metrics used during and after the sprint?

    Like

  8. Chcken: “Let’s start a restaurant.”
    Pig: “Good idea, but what should we call it?”
    Chicken: “How about ‘Ham and Eggs'”
    Pig: “No thanks. I’d be committed, you’d only be involved.”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Nice and concise list!

    I know this is coming in late, but a couple more rules:

    1) No electronic devices are allowed — with two exceptions: a Chicken uses it as a reference to report his Y&T&BI list and only for that reason; or the Scrum Master uses a laptop/tablet and projector to communicate overall status (backlog, burn rate, etc). I.e. Scrum meetings are for communication…and that can’t happen if you’re checking your Facebook wall, emails, or texting someone.

    2) Note-taking shouldn’t happen. If it is, it should only be done by the Scrum Master…and that’s “if-y” at best (I do it as a SM but only if I can do so without being distracting). Some people attend meetings as if they’re court stenographers…sitting at their laptops typing everything everyone said. For one thing, this is a stand-up meeting, so unless you have a tablet with a stylus, that’ll be difficult. Second, it’s not your job to take notes. It’s to listen.

    Like

  10. This is sadly full of anti-patterns. Your continued focus on the status is very bad practice and not at all the intention of a daily scrum | daily stand up. These are not status meetings, they are COMMITMENT meetings. Every meeting in agile is a planing meeting, and the daily scrum is for daily planning. Members of the development team and ONLY members of the development team will describe what they accomplished yesterday (preferably how they brought the work closer to the sprint goal), what they are committing to accomplish today and what is impeding their commitments.

    “All team members are required to attend. If for some reason a team member cannot attend in person, the absent member must either attend by phone or by having another team member report on the absent members status”. – What value would having another team member report on the absent members status even if that was right? What if the status was “poor”, how could the rest of the team even act on information like this?

    “Team members must be prompt. The scrum master starts the meeting at the appointed time, ragrdless of who is present. Any member who is late pays Rupees 50 to the scrum master immediately”. – It does start promptly, but the decision to pay 50 rupees is a TEAM decision based on the TEAM agreement, not some imposition on an individual.

    “The very intent of the daily stand up meeting is to update the status of the project to the rest of the team”. – This is NOT the point of a daily scrum. The daily scrum is NOT a status meeting. See above.

    “The scrum master begins the meeting by starting with the person to his or her left and proceeding counter clockwise around the room until everyone has reported.” – The scrum master should eventually be in a position where she does not “start” with anyone. Nor should she call on anyone. When a developer is presenting, they should not be presenting to the scrum master. The development team should eventually (and it will take time) volunteer their commitments to one another, not to some Tsar scrum master.

    “Team members should not digress beyond answering these three questions into issues, designs, discussion of problems, or gossip. The scrum master is responsible for moving the reporting along briskly, from person to person.” – The scrum master is not some sort of mini-project manager. Her job is to coach the development teams into “moving” their commitment along. When done successfully, even on a big team, one finds that delivery will still take under 15 minutes while still providing value.

    “When a team member reports something that is of interest to other team members or needs the assistance of other team members, any team meber can immediately arrange for all interested parties to get together after the daily scrum to set up a meeting.” – What do you mean can immediately? While I agree a meet after (or.. meet afters in this scenario) is necessary, would the immediate distraction of “okay, you, Tomas, and I need to meet, RIGHT AFTER” break this? What if Tomas is needed twice?

    “Chickens are not allowed to talk with team members after the meeting for clarification or to provide advice or instructions.” I feel like by “chickens” you mean “stake owners”. They should indeed NOT interrupt the daily, but how would you even prevent them from talking after the meeting? Would not after the meeting be the time where clarification is required? It is the scrum masters role to insulate the teams from sideways work yes but how would you even build trust if developers can only ask questions and not answer them?

    “Taken from ‘Agile project management with SCRUM’ by Ken Schwaber” – I would say interrupted, not “taken” based on the above.

    Like

  11. Once upon a time, a pig and a chicken decided to start a restaurant. Suddenly the the chicken decided to name the restaurant ‘Ham and eggs’. Immediately the pig disagreed with the idea because his flesh is traded there where as the chicken’s contribution was only the eggs. In every project scenarios, there are pigs and chickens. To develop software, we need business analysts / product owners, architects, designers, programmers and testers. Most probably they are the ‘pigs’ of the project, who are going to really bleed if something goes wrong. A word of caution / wisdom – ‘Every chicken is a pig in some other team’ 🙂

    Like

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