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Agile: Meeting the Challenges of the Daily Scrum

by Peter Doyle, on July 15, 2020

Welcome back to our recurring blog series covering how businesses and software development companies can leverage Agile methodologies into their daily planning. Co-authors Dan McLean and Peter Doyle teamed up to continue this segment for us.

In our prior blog post (Here), we looked at the impact of personality types on the Sprint Planning events. For a refresher of the Agile Scrum Framework, visit this link.

We also revisit our two fictional characters, Donald and Fabio, whose personalities we profiled using the Predictive Index (PI). These characters will again make an appearance as we discuss how their personalities could impact the Daily Scrum meeting, referred to here as the Daily Stand-Up.

If you haven't caught any of the previous series, check them out here!

  1. What Does It Mean to Become Agile?
  2. Taking Agile to the Next Level: Managing the Unmanageable
  3. Agile Collaboration: Becoming a Team Player
  4. How Do 'Personalities' Impact the Way We Work?
  5. Working It Out: How Personalities Play Into Agile Sprint Planning
  6. Agile: Meeting the Challenges of the Daily Scrum (You are here.)

The 15-Minute Daily Stand-Up

For this post, we will continue to show how our two subjects and their Predictive Index (PI) results have an impact on the Scrum process, this time on the second sprint event, the Daily Stand-Up.

The Daily Stand-Up is a daily occurrence, lasting no more than 15 minutes and typically includes everyone on the scrum team. At a minimum, the Development Team needs to be at the meeting. The Scrum Master is usually the facilitator, and Product Owner is more often than not present as well.

The routine should include an update from each of the Development Team members, responding to each of the following three questions:

  • What did I do yesterday?
  • What will I do today?
  • Are there any issues or blockers (impediments)?

The discussion around these questions should result in a pathway toward the Sprint goal and guidance toward resolution of any issues or impediments.

Donald and Fabio, Dynamic Duo

As a reminder, Donald is a developer on the team and Fabio, a tester.

The biggest challenge is keeping the essential business of the meeting to the 15-minute time-box. Ad hoc meetings should be scheduled to deal with potentially time-consuming issues.

Donald begrudgingly participates in the meetings and as such doesn’t bring much value to the meeting. When Donald does share information, it often lacks completeness or thought due to his lack of interest in being in the meeting.

Fabio, on the other hand, has difficulty raising his concerns and answering questions in a direct manner. He focuses on every intricacy of the problem, rather than the end result. 

Breaking Down a Real-World Scenario

Let’s play this out with a sample 15-minute Daily Stand-Up. 

Donald joins the meeting, irritated by what he considers to be an interruption to his work day. Being irritated, he’s less likely to be a productive member of the Stand-Up.

As a servant leader to the team, you, as Scrum Master, should be aware of your team’s scheduling needs and accommodate them where you can. You should poll your team to figure which time works best for them and get a consensus on that time and schedule accordingly. 

Fabio, on the other hand, will have a tendency to become misdirected in his verbal contributions, not focusing on general issues, but more on minute details of the tasks.

As Scrum Master, it is your responsibility to redirect the conversation to stay on point and offer the opportunity to table the excess and talk about it offline.  This will allow Fabio to feel like his concerns are valid and will be addressed and at the same time keep the Stand-Up in its time-box.

Incremental Improvements

Let's take a look at incorporating our suggestions from the prior paragraph into our sample scenario.

For Donald, we asked the group their preferred meeting times and availability. We took the top 3 suggested times and presented them to the team for their vote. Once the vote was taken, the recurring meeting time was established for the team.

The team and Donald were much happier as they felt like they contributed to the decision as to when the meeting was held and that they had control over their meeting time. This will hopefully lead to Donald being more productive and involved during the stand up because it’s now “his stand up.”

Fabio's issues were resolved by wrangling in his verbal digressions during the meeting by scheduling a separate meeting to address the concerns that Fabio had with only the parties that needed to participate.

This was an exercise of good time management, because you were able to keep the meeting in its original time slot while still respecting Fabio’s voice. 

Wrapping Up... Until Next Time!

In this post, the role of Scrum Master was to address some particular challenges that arose in the team’s Stand Up and resolve them in a way that addressed each of the personalities we had on display here.

By mediating and getting consensus ( which happens to be a common task for a Scrum Master) your team should be better functioning and you’ve stayed true to maintaining the structure of the Stand Up; both building cohesion within your team and staying aligned with the Scrum Framework. 

We look forward to you continuing to follow along with Donald and Fabio’s journey through the next phase of the sprint process, the “review” phase.

Topics:Agile