Has Your Daily Scrum Become Stale?

stale-11642077Has the team’s daily stand up lost a bit of freshness? How might you know?

See if you can detect any of the following indicators:

  • No one seems to be listening to anyone else
  • Someone is giving way too much detail
  • People are just reporting status: “I’ve been doing my job”
  • Lack of peer accountability
  • General dearth of energy

Mix Up Your Stand Up

If you observe one or more from the list above, introduce a change to the format. Pick a day, any day, of the week, and do a switch-a-roo. I like Fridays. Makes for a Fun Friday. But Whacky Wednesday or Mildew Monday will also do. Whatever makes sense for your team. Rotate through some (or all) of the following stand up variations for that day each week:

  • Last Letter – First Letter: Anyone goes first, and then the next person must start their statement using the last letter of the previous person’s final sentence.
  • Give someone else’s report: Tell the team what someone else did yesterday and what they will be working on today and what might be in their way
  • Zip Zap Zop: Stop going clockwise or counterclockwise.
  • Scrum Bingo: Have a list of “stop” words on the team board. Ring a bell anytime one of those words is used. (Hope, expect, should….)
  • Song Lyrics: Pick a well known song or a theme song for how the iteration is going, and each member must include a reference or some bit of lyrics in their summary
  • Funny You Should Mention That: Each person must tie their statements into another team member’s report using “Funny you should mention that…”

Improv Skills for Agility

Most of these “games” have their roots in improv training. All promote skills that transfer directly into an agile mindset and culture:

  • Active listening (less interruption, no multitasking, not working off of internal agendas)
  • Team adaptability (innovation, fluidity, culture tolerance, nimbleness, surrendering the need to be ‘right’ )
  • Seeing opportunity (different perspectives, problem solving, seeing how things ‘can’ work before we start poking holes on why they ‘won’t’)
  • Supporting each other (trust, transparency, cooperation, empathy, cross functional coordination and problem solving)
  • Having a good laugh

Simple Doesn’t Always Mean “Easy”

Don’t let the simplicity of “yesterday – today – in my way” – fool you into thinking it’s easy to master. A great scrum sets the “heart beat” for the team for the day, and helps ensure the team has the best and most effective today possible – as a team.

Change the recipe once in awhile and look for:

  • Emergent discovery
  • Fine grained team coordination
  • Commitment and accountability
  • Progress as well as risks made visible
  • Support: impediments are called out, and a plan for action to remove them put in place

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