Agility

One thing I like about agile software development is the daily scrum, the daily meeting.
It works well when:
a. The meeting is very short … 15-30 minutes and you discuss what you’ve been doing for the previous day and what the plan is for the day and the roadblocks.
b. No project managers are around, or if they are, they’re not allowed to talk … maybe just keep the minutes 😉
c. The longer debates are taken offline (however, for some strange reasons, too many discussions taken offline are buried until the next meeting)
d. You have a moderator that enforces these rules and the agenda

It doesn’t work well when:
(when all the cases above are not satisfied plus)
a. Discussion goes off-topic in any direction, or it’s high-jacked by other people with different agendas – any other meetings should be separate and have a clear agenda
b. People are not punctual for the meeting, so you end up waiting in the meeting room for people to arrive (most scrums however take place around desks)
c. You have excessively verbose people

Here are few reasons why you should have a daily scrum:
a. Gives everyone (and especially the team leader) a very good picture of where the development is, any roadblocks, any inefficiencies, etc. so the team can react more quickly and optimize down time. Many teams have members that are not so proactive, so daily scrums are especially useful to get useful information out of these people.

b. Motivates people to keep up the good work. The productivity of people is never constant, there are ups and downs. Same with the morale and motivation. As such, some people become sometimes less proactive and procrastinate more. Daily scrums force them in the open, so procrastination will be obvious to the rest of the team. As a consequence, people will procrastinate less on average. They act like a form of stick, for which sometimes you need a bad cop in the group.
These daily scrums, especially if they happen in the morning, they can kick-start the morning more easily.

c. Makes the team more cohesive, people tend to communicate more and communication becomes easier among the team members. It’s a form of team building. As such, the atmosphere should be friendly and open during these meetings, however care should be paid not to contradict point b (you still need to motivate and a bit of pressure is good) and not to digress into lengthy off-topic conversations.

It’s imperative however not to limit the communication in team to these meetings, in particular, issues shouldn’t be postponed to next meeting but raised as they happen. As such, communication within the team should be encouraged and people should be encouraged to make themselves accessible to other team members.

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One Response to “Agility”

  1. Kevin E. Schlabach Says:

    You said “People are not punctual for the meeting, so you end up waiting in the meeting room for people to arrive (most scrums however take place around desks)”

    Funny solution for you… get the team to agree to make late people pay a dollar into a fishbowl/can every day. When there’s enough money, buy the team lunch.

    This can backfire… when someone puts a $20 in the bowl to pay in advance for the next few days, change it to pay fines on a doubling sequence making it cost-prohibitive to skip days in a row (it resets when they are on time once).

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