The Daily Scrum, or Stand-Up Meeting, is an essential part of the Agile Methodology. Typically time-boxed to 15 minutes, each team member answers three questions: (1) what did you do yesterday? (2) what will you do today? and (3) what are your impediments or blockers? Because it is a daily meeting, it can become dry, mundane, and unexciting. It does not have to be that way—especially if the scrum is in the morning. The daily scrum is an excellent opportunity to set the tone for the day and provide energy to the team. Below are some tips to spice-up your daily scrum.
On a specific day of the week, allow one member of the team to state a fun fact or tell a joke at the beginning or end of the daily scrum. Rotate team members or come up with innovative ways to “punish” team members by assigning them as the designated fun fact or joke teller of the day (see “Change up the order” below). The break in routine can be refreshing and, if done well, the anticipation of hearing the week’s fun fact or joke can generate some excitement. Once the team gels and the team members become comfortable with each other, this may become unnecessary as the pleasant interaction comes naturally.
Instead of going in a specific order when requesting answers to the three questions; invent a way to mix it up. One thing I like to do is randomly pick the first team member and let him or her pick the next team member. Be creative and make it fun. Some teams use a ball or a soft toy to throw around to determine the next speaker. This keeps everybody on their toes and forces them to pay attention to what everybody is saying. If they pick a team member that already went, hand down a “punishment”—like being the next day’s fun-fact or joke teller. Another idea is to keep score during the sprint and whichever team member loses will facilitate the Sprint Retrospective.
If your team’s energy is lacking and everybody is just going through the motions, get the blood flowing by doing some fun exercises. Jumping jacks, stretching, breathing exercises—anything to energize the team. They don’t have to be physical. Prepare interesting questions or riddles to activate the brain. Don’t take too much time, though, the daily scrum is time-boxed to 15 minutes. You can also reward the winner by making him or her first in line in the next scrum, which guarantees they will not pick a speaker who already went.
Implement a Sprint-team shout-out at the end of each week or sprint to acknowledge one team member who was a tremendous help to his or her team—or who simply did a great job the past week or sprint. Make it fun by allowing team members to nominate and vote on the week’s winner, followed by a round of applause. This also a great way to reward a great team member and motivate the rest of the team to do well.
There are always one or two team members who take forever during their turn, especially if the manager attends the scrum. You want to discourage this behavior, but you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. A timer, preferably with a loud buzzer, comes in handy not only to keep the scrum short but also to train everybody to express themselves succinctly. Make light fun of the process. Team members that don’t beat the clock will be “punished” (see “Fun Fact Day” above). Make sure you clarify with the team that this practice is to train the team to be short and efficient during their turn and to keep the scrum within the timebox.
The most important thing to remember is to have fun and enjoy the daily scrum. It’s a forum for the team to learn what everybody is doing and to help each other complete the sprint commitments. Making it fun can also improve team dynamics—which is always helpful in the pursuit of a self-running team. Finally, if your organization wants more project management tips, or needs any help implementing agile management processes at any level, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d love to help you get started.
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