7 Common Mistakes That Can Damage Scrum Stand up Meetings

Scrum is such as integral part of Agile that these two terms are often used interchangeably even by the IT industry insiders. One of the most rigorously used and abused frameworks of Agile, Scrum is one of those concepts which seem easy at the first sight but come with a tricky implementation. This tricky implementation part has many a times damaged the scrum stand up meetings. The entire purpose of these daily scrum stand up meetings is to give an opportunity to all the team members to share such information with the rest of the team that they must be aware of in order to fulfil their work assignments for that particular day. The success of these stand up meetings has a significant impact on the overall output produced by the team, thus underlining the need for their proper conduct. If you practice this or are planning to start this in your organization, the following pointers would come in handy and tell you what not to do in your stand up meetings.

1. Members thinking only Scrum Master should take the lead

It isn’t unusual to see team members fiddling with their phones or other devices while one of their colleagues is talking to the Scrum Master. This has a detrimental impact on the meeting environment and doesn’t speak well about team collaboration. Unless the Scrum Master takes this up and corrects it, the entire purpose of the stand up meetings would stand defeated. These meetings are organized to ensure that everyone in the team is on the same page and in line with the spring goal of the team. Rather than addressing the statements to the Scrum Master alone, everyone must address their statements to the other team members in order to boast the overall atmosphere of collaboration.

2.  Having your team distributed all over

It may sound a bit too methodical, but it is imperative that you have a dedicated room for your team to work together. It is important to understand that scrum stand up meetings are essentially meant to keep everyone in the loop and not discuss the details about their own individual tasks. But unless you have a dedicated space for your team to work together where the individuals can chat to each other about their task, its progress and other related stuff, it would be very difficult to keep people from talking about this stuff during the 15 minutes stand up meeting. Such distractions defeat the purpose of scrum stand up meetings and render them ineffective. If the team members see each other only during these stand up meetings, it would be very difficult to stick to the agenda and stop everyone from going into deep details about their work.


3.  Sitting

This one is simple, yet often neglected. These meetings are called stand up meetings for a reason – everyone needs to be on their feet during the meeting. Rather than etiquettes or making everyone follow rules, this point has a deeper meaning attached to it. Once people sit down, they are more likely to give their status reports which don’t really form a part of these scrum stand up meetings. They should rather be identifying situations and making plans. The only time this practice can be allowed is in case of a geographically distributed team.


4.  Not making the three fundamental questions a part of the meeting

Scrum, by definition, is highly flexible. However, if you take away its soul on the pretext of flexibility, you can’t expect it to give you the desired results in the end. Similarly, daily scrum is incomplete without answering three fundamental questions. These are –

  • What tasks were undertaken yesterday?
  • What is the agenda for the day?
  • What problems did the team face while undertaking its tasks?

These questions form the basis of any scrum stand up meeting. Any stand up meeting overlooking these basic questions can’t be expected to give the expected results.

5.  Letting one person take charge

Agile methods are directed towards developing teams which are self driving and self directed. However, in most scrum stand up meetings, it is one single person (usually the scrum master) who ends up directing the entire meeting and pushing other team members. This particular tendency is found in many experienced agile teams as well. Relying on the scrum master to obtain the necessary information from the individual team members would defeat the purpose of adopting agile. Unless each team members takes up the responsibility and shares the necessary information, the meetings won’t bear optimum fruits. Taking ownership is what holds the key to the success of these scrum stand up meetings.


6.  Using the meeting for micromanagement or as a recording meeting

Many teams treat these scrum stand up meetings as status meetings and bring in laptops and record the minutes. This is nothing more than a waste of their time and effort. This gives a feeling of being micromanaged to the team members and discourages them to honestly share the required information. Dwelling over individual issues or problems faced while accomplishing tasks must never be on the agenda of the meeting. The more you stick to the objectives of the meeting, the better are the chances of achieving success.


7.  Being fine with members turning up late

All the team members maintaining personal discipline is imperative for the success of scrum stand up meetings. Team members turning up late for the stand up meetings is a major let down. This can be rectified by asking the team members about their preferred time for the meeting and then setting the meeting accordingly, rather than the scrum master or the management deciding the time of the meeting. Getting support from the line managers can also be helpful in ensuring punctuality in the meeting. As a scrum master, you can work with the managers of your individual team members and share with them the significance of reaching the meetings on time. The respective line managers can convince the team members about the importance of punctuality for these stand up meetings.

Apart from the ones mentioned some of the other practices best avoided in the stand up meetings include stating same tasks on consecutive days of the meeting, not paying attention and respect to the speaker, making room for distractions to kick in, converting it into a planning meeting and undertaking technical discussions in the meeting. Daily scrum stand up meetings can be the foundation for adopting agile in the organization. If done correctly, they can ensure that the transition to Agile is easy and seamless.


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