The daily standup meetings, aka scrum meetings, take at most 15 minutes and make teams more productive and efficient. Some quarters argue it is an archaic practice that should be discarded. Still, most agree that its benefits are undeniable, mainly for SaaS startups in the 0-30k range.
The reason why standup meetings are held standing up is to ensure the meetings stay short and simple. Nobody wants to stand around discussing issues for more than 15 minutes! You can run your scrum meetings like a well-oiled machine, by mastering the three top questions that you need to ask.
1. What have you accomplished since the previous meeting?
This question keeps everyone on the team on their collective toes. Nobody wants to be the one dragging the team behind with unfinished work. There is hyper-productivity when the daily progress is better each day. There is nothing more satisfying than when everyone in the team manages to clear up any backlog, and if anyone is lagging, the rest of the team asking, “Hey, how can we help?”
2. What Will you do Today?
The answer to “what will you do today?” causes a revision of the project’s strategies and re-orientates the team depending on the answer to the first question. If any tasks had been overlooked, this question revitalizes and allows the team to refocus on the project goals. If there is a backlog, a problem needs solving ASAP.
3. What is Hindering Progress?
Progress hindrance is mostly due to software issues. The scrum master (we shall get to who the scrum master is in a bit) or the team can solve this. If they cannot, the management can look into the situation. This question brings to the forefront any problems that are hindering progress. The scrum teams should ensure that any hiccups are eliminated to improve efficiency and backlog.
Who is A Scrum Master?
You must be wondering what on earth a scrum master is. It sounds like a name out of a Harry Potter book, or a rugby term, where it actually originates from, but I digress. A scrum Master’s job is not just any job, but it is rooted in the heart of leadership. A scrum master ensures that a project has a proper scrum process. The scrum master is the scrum framework’s glue, and facilitates the process for the product owner, the scrum team and the SaaS owners.
In short, the scrum master handles only the process. He/she is involved in decision-making (lucky them!). He/she merely acts as a guide for the team through the entire scrum process using their vast expertise and experience.
Some team members may be newbies, especially teams who are novices in the scrum framework. With no scrum master pushing and supporting the process, the project may fall flat on its face. The scrum master helps the team to grasp the scrum concept, values and rules.
Scrum masters fit the servant leader role perfectly. They are not part of any pecking orders and do not give orders or constantly badger the team about ROI. They take a holistic approach and are more about offering a service to the team and promoting a community mentality while supporting those who make decisions, sort of like going to a big brother for help.
As the team’s big brother, you are its protector, and you have to ensure you do not allow the team to over-commit. Sometimes, an over-zealous product owner might push them to over-commit and fail to meet their targets. However, as the scrum master, you have to protect them also from becoming too complacent. As a scrum master, you cannot afford to keep pointing out the mistakes team members make. Instead, your role is to show them how to become better.
Scrum Master’s Role
Scrum masters have several roles in the scrum project. The scrum masters serve the small-medium enterprise by ensuring the scope, product domain and goals are laid down clearly for every team member. The scrum master is that go-to guy who everyone runs to for tools and techniques that finish off any backlog issues.
Scrum masters are pros at product planning, and they are naturally agile. They recognize Agile as one way to approach a project and can quickly set up a meeting on cue. It is important to note, though, that the scrum masters facilitate the standup meetings, but do not participate. They can be likened to app builders, who develop apps and ensure they are in proper order, but for others.
Agile is a project management process that is used for developing software. Agile software is a blanket term for several frameworks. Agile software includes such as Scrum, Feature-Driven Development (FDD) Extreme programming, and more. It also includes practices such as Stand-ups, planning sessions, sprints, pair programming, etc.
Scrum as a Game Changer
We are poised to see the business world being thrust into a huge transformation. The projection is that 50% of companies on the S&P 500 index will be missing on that index in the next 9 or 10 years. Survival in the current marketplace means you have to adapt to the ongoing disruption to stay ahead of your competitors. To be a market leader, you must get with the program, always innovative, to maintain your business edge. Lack of innovation will see you drop to the bottom of the pile! So what we are telling you is that you must keep abreast of the changes and stay on top of your game.
This paradigm shift in the business world means more growth opportunities for companies that have the will to adapt. It does not matter if you are a Fortune 100 company or a budding entrepreneur; you need to wake up to the reality of the changing business world. In a world where change is constant, you have to stay alert and move with the times.
Benefits of Daily Stand up Meetings
The benefits of daily standup meetings include:
- Positive team building
- Improves team collaboration
- Exchange of valuable information
- Reduces backlogs
- Improves the teams understanding of their shared goals
You have to keep the sessions short strictly; otherwise, they will morph into serious team meetings. Hold the sessions in a room devoid of chairs to ensure they stay short. No devices should be allowed in and stick to the topic by adhering to the three-question rule. Stick to a regular venue and time, ensuring that you are all prepared, and keep time.
The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time
“Doing twice the work in half the time,” sounds like an impossible feat, right? Well, it is possible, and Jeff Sutherland, the co-creator of Scrum penned the book doing twice the work in half the time that explains in-depth about how Scrum works. He talks about the origin of Scrum and goes on to explain how it is possible to apply Scrum in everything, not just business.
Sutherland says the problem is that we focus all too much on the individual rather than the team. Nobody is an island, and as the saying goes, there is strength in numbers. When a team comes together, we all bring our collective strengths together and can achieve more.
The Takeaway from Sutherland’s Book
Sutherland’s book is very detailed, but the take-home from the book can be summarized in a few short points:
- Do not multi-task, it only slows you down, and you will suck at both tasks you are trying to carry out.
- Almost does not count. Just because you did a task halfway does not make it complete. You will have wasted time and resources with no results.
- Be a perfectionist, try and get things right from the word go. Fix mistakes immediately, later will cost more.
- Work smart, not hard. Working longer hours does not necessarily mean you will accomplish more. You will get yourself into a twist and fatigue will lead to mistakes. Work during weekdays at a comfortable pace, and learn to rest.
- Be reasonable with goal settings. Otherwise, you will just get more frustrated.
- Do not try to be a hero. Being heroic shows a gap in your planning skills. If you planned right, you would not need a hero to get you out of your mess.
- Scrap useless policies. All policies that do not make sense need to go. Useless forms, senseless approvals and standards, all have to go. Go for simplicity and efficiency.
- No bullying others. Anyone who bullies others or causes chaos of any kind, emotional or otherwise, should be stopped on their tracks.
- Encourage flow. Everything should flow in the smoothest way possible. Scrum is all about everything, bonding and gelling.
Daily standup meetings happen at the same time every day. Their purpose is to bring members of your team up to speed on project developments, and information that is critical for team coordination. Each team member briefs the rest on their completed tasks and any issues encountered. The meeting is boxed into 15 minutes, and any topic that seems to bring about a discussion is slotted for review after the standup between the affected parties.
Only three questions are asked, what have you accomplished since the last meeting, what are you doing today, and what problems are you facing? A scrum master, who does not participate and is not part of the decision-makers, facilitates the sessions.