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Why Isn’t Your Daily Stand Up Working?

Emily Stickle // June 22, 2022

Agile

Daily stand-ups, also known as Daily Scrums, are an important part of Agile. Not only that, but it’s also a practice used across several areas of business. Managers do this to ensure employees have their needs met, and the direction of the assignment is clear. Unfortunately, many stand-up meetings do not meet the needs of the employees.

Worse yet, some stand-up meetings act in a detrimental way, making employees feel less trusted. As an Agile event, they are considered required, but often not considered as part of goal setting. This leads to meetings amounting to nothing more than a check-in.

Some administrative reports where team members report out their accomplishments rather than collaborating. When hosting a stand-up, take note to really listen to what people are saying, and start to diagnose issues early on. Poor stand-up meetings are the symptom of a greater issue, not the problem.

1. Understand the role of the Scrum Master

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Photo by Parabol on Unsplash

According to the Scrum Guide, the role of the Scrum Master is to ensure the Scrum Event follows the agreed-to process. Most Scrum Masters adhere to that prescription, but forget that the Scrum Master should also remove any impediments to the process.

When following the Done, Doing, Blocker agenda, the Scrum Master should be most concerned with the blockers the team faces. Unfortunately, most lose this during the read-out, changing the feel of the meeting from a collaborative approach to one of prescriptive read-out. Focus on what your team needs, before what they did or plan to do.

2. Listen to your team

Does your meeting run long? Does your team not bring information to the call? Do you find that people choose not to attend? All of these items can be a symptom of a greater issue. If meetings run long, it generally signifies that team members are not able to collaborate during their day, which is a barrier to work.

Teams who choose not to share their status are often experiencing a lack of psychological security in their work. When people choose not to come, it's because you are not meeting their needs. They are either finding new ways to surface information, or it’s getting lost altogether.

3. Meetings are prescriptive

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Photo by Andrii Babarytskyi on Unsplash

I advocate for meeting notes and consistency, but not for the sake of work. As you progress in your Agile journey, find ways to articulate your team's success and needs through the written word. This may mean taking a bit more time to dig into an item, or taking a moment to decompress something that was said. It's better to allow one meeting to go off script to set the standard than it is to force people into a setting that isn’t working. 

Most importantly, take time to make meetings meaningful. That may look like something a bit more fun, or taking the time to learn something new. Each team is different, and so are their needs. Daily stand-up (Daily Scrum) should be a time to bonding as well as a report out. Explore new ways to ensure the team can easily share their needs and accomplishments while identifying how to best work together as a team. 

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