A group of people sitting at a table with laptops doing a Daily scrum a.k.a standup.

‘The standup’

Picture this:

Your team meets every day at 9am in the office. The manager opens the scrum board and briefly goes through all user stories that are on the board. He starts with all the user stories that are on ‘Todo’:

Manager: “Hi Bart, any updates on this one?”

Bart: “Uhmm yeah, well, I was not yet working on this one, but I might today.”

Manager: “Oh why not?”

Bart: “Yeah sorry still kinda busy other stories”

Manager: “Ok let’s go to the next one, Peter? Any update on this one? “

Peter: “Same as yesterday boss! Nothing much to update. “

Manager: “Can you please focus on this one today, Peter? Our customer is waiting for this one desperately.

Peter: “I’m still waiting on some information; things are so unclear!”

…39 minutes later…

All engineers run out of the room (exhausted) and go straight to the coffee machine, delighted that it’s over and start talking about yesterday’s football match.

The person who acts as Manager can often be replaced by: Scrum Master, Product Owner, Team Lead, etc.

Sounds familiar?

Then ask yourself, what exactly did we achieve by doing this?

Most likely your answer will be: The team feels frustrated because this ‘standup’ increased top-down control of the engineers and they missed a valuable hour of their day.

A lot of managed service providers nowadays are trying to adopt SCRUM, because…you know, it’s cool to tell the customer that you are working SCRUM (and ITIL is old school, right?). They often try to fix something that was not broken.

Or even worse, you’re still working full ITIL, but they start doing standups to add a little SCRUM juice to their teams.

What does Scrum tell us?

SCRUM does not use the word standup in the Scrum Guide at all. It’s often confused with the Daily Scrum.

So, what does Scrum tell us about the ‘Daily Scrum’? In my opinion, there is one sentence in the Scrum guide that explains the Daily Scum best:

The Developers can select whatever structure and techniques they want, as long as their Daily Scrum focuses on progress toward the Sprint Goal and produces an actionable plan for the next day of work. This creates focus and improves self-management.

* I’ve replaced Developers for Engineers in this article to make it more applicable to Managed Service Providers.

How to ‘Scrummarize’ your standup?

Stop doing thisInstead do this
Calling it a Standup.In my opinion, a standup already gives a bad vibe. It sounds like you all need to justify your work. Let’s call it a Daily Scrum!
Micromanaging the team.Let the engineers be a responsible group of professionals.
Ask the same boring updates, every day, about every single item on the board.Let engineers share updates about notable events, what their plan is today, if there are any impediments and if they need help with something (from the team).
Focus on yesterday’s problems.Focus on todays and tomorrows solutions.
Forcing all engineers to join the daily scrum at 9am.Let the team of engineers decide at what time they want to meet. But to reduce complexity, it is held at the same time and place every working day of the Sprint.
Have long daily scrum meetings and discuss things that completely useless for the rest of the team.Time box your Daily Scrum at 15 minutes, use a timer if needed! Quick, short and relevant for the team.
Using the Scrum Master, Product Owner and/or even the manager as a babysitter for Daily Scrums.If the Scrum Master, Product Owner and/or the manager are actively working on items in the Sprint Backlog, they participate as Engineers (not as a babysitter).

Final thoughts

When applying Scrum to your organization, the Daily Scrum can be either a very valuable part of your day or it will mess up the motivation of all your engineers.

When you are adding sprints and ‘standups’ to your teams because it’s part of Scrum, your team will just become less efficient and demotivated.

Always think WHY are we doing this? Does this help our organization to improve?

Scrum is about:
Commitment, Focus, Openness, Respect, and Courage.

Scrum is not about:
Control, Micromanagement, Justification and Pressure.

So please stop messing up the first hour of everyone’s valuable day! Find yourself a proper Scrum Master and start focusing on positivity and improvement.

Want to know more about Scrum? Please leave a comment below and like the article! Many thanks for reading.