The Truth About the “Daily Stand up”

The Daily Scrum

     If you are part of a Scrum Team, I have little doubt that you have heard about the “Stand Up”. It’s supposedly a meeting in Scrum where the team gets into a circle every day and answers the three questions. The Questions are: “What did I do yesterday?”, “What will I do today?” and “What impediments am I facing?”.

Some articles and books suggest that the Scrum Master and Developers should be there, other suggest the Product Owner too. Scrum Practitioners have nearly universally understood that we should stand to encourage brevity. If you are standing still, your feet will start to hurt. The theory is that you will keep your answers short, so you can go back to sitting.  To summarize: The “Daily Stand Up” is a meeting in which the whole team gets together and these answers three questions while standing in a circle for 15 minutes every day.

My problem with all of this is that the Scrum Guide doesn’t actually mention a meeting called the “Stand Up”. In fact, a quick search of the guide does not mention the word “stand” or any variation even once. The truth is, there is no “Daily Stand Up”; There is however a “Daily Scrum”. In fact, the guide also states strictly that only Development team members should participate so that they can plan their day. For those not familiar with the Scrum Guide, it is the seventeen-page definitive guide to Scrum written by the two founders of the framework.

The Scrum Guide Cover

 

In my experience this is the single most misinterpreted meeting in Scrum. I have seen many occasions where a Scrum Master would “run the meeting”, and the Product Owner and SM would participate and question the team. I have seen many scrums where the team simply answered the three questions as if they where a status meeting, and then immediately go back to work in solitude.

What can we do?

If used correctly, this meeting gives the developers an opportunity to discuss what they have been doing, what was learned, and plan how they can work together over the next day. The spirit of the meeting is to give the people doing the work the opportunity to collaborate and build together. Answering the three questions is a good start but it is not enough to just answer these questions. It really doesn’t matter if the team is standing, or sitting, or leaning as long as they come together to have a discussion and plan out their day. The Scrum Master and the Product Owner should not be there questioning the team or trying to get a status update. They shouldn’t be there at all!

For me, the ideal Daily Scrum is one in which only the developers meet every day for around 15 minutes. They discuss what they are working on, how they can help one another, and where they are stuck. It doesn’t matter if they are sitting or standing as long as they are doing what works best for them. Answering the three questions directly is not really required as long as it is covered in the conversation. By the end of the meeting the team should have an idea of what they will all be doing. Someone can then fill in any interested party.  If a team does this, it goes a long way in solving some of the biggest problems most teams face.

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1 thought on “The Truth About the “Daily Stand up”

  1. For me, the ideal daily stand up is the one that happens on the fly. There won’t be any set time for it as there is flow of information going smoothly all over the environment. Then, there won’t be a need a daily stand up at all. I have the same wish for Retrospectives!

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