Skip the Daily Scrum? No Thank You!

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A frequent question is whether it would be OK to make the Daily Scrum a Weekly Scrum? My answer: No way!

The Daily Scrum exists to enable self organization. It helps the team focus, communicate and identify impediments. The team members communicate to each other their progress, goals and impediments. The team members identify how they can help each other to reach the shared goal of the sprint.

Each team member answers three questions:

  1. What did you accomplish yesterday?
  2. What is your goal for today?
  3. What is preventing you from accomplishing your goals?

Syncing up at the Daily Scrum

The first two questions allow the team members to sync up. Yesterday they made commitments to each other. Today they review the results together and make new commitments. Team members can recognize when they need to help each other, work with each other, or just need to talk to each other about specific problems. This is basis of self organization. The ScrumMaster may also identify impediments to progress which require his/her attention.

The answer to the first question confirms that each team member has worked on and achieved what s/he planned to do. Unachieved goals can be a sign that the problem is harder than expected or that the team member needs assistance. Unplanned work can be a sign of many different problems which will prevent the team from achieving its goal. Listening to the answer gives the rest of the team an opportunity to confirm whether the claimed goal has really been achieved.

Focus on your goals for the day

The answer to the second question helps each individual focus on the day’s tasks. Other team members can notice when their work is affected and raise the need to discuss a subject in detail. The second question should also identify free capacity if a team member does not have enough work for the day.

Turn excuses into a Call for Action

The third question serves to systematically identify factors which are impeding the team’s progress, so that these issues can be addressed as quickly as possible. If a team member needs help, e.g. from another team member, from the ScrumMaster, or from somewhere else in the company, this is the time to raise the issue. An impediment is transformed into a call to action and is not allowed to become an excuse for not completing work when the deadline arrives.

So to the participant in Zürich: You’re not doing one now, so it’s not killing you. But if you do Scrum without a Daily Scrum, self organization probably won’t work and impediments won’t get recognized or corrected. From my experience, half of the productivity improvement from Scrum derives directly from the close collaboration among the team members enabled by the Daily Scrum.

You might have compelling arguments why a Daily Scrum is not possible. If Scrum is not suitable for your project, that’s OK. But more likely, you are just trying to accommodate a situation which is suboptimal. So before you skip the Daily Scrum, ask yourself, ‘Can I really afford to skip the productivity benefits? Could I justify this to my Stakeholders?’ And ultimately, your self-organizing Team should have the final word.