Daily stand ups are the core of an Agile Scrum team. When done properly they help your team get a clear view on how the sprint is performing, what they achieved the day before and what tasks are to be done today.
As a Scrum Master, your main focus is to remove obstacles from the team members and ensure a smooth burn down of the sprint. You also want to increase the team velocity so that your sprints are more effective over time.
This is easier said than done. In this article, Leon Tranter points out that many Scrum Masters are doing it wrong. He also covers five things to avoid in your daily stand ups:
1. Daily stand ups are not status reports
The Scrum Master should hold the stand up meetings but still be part of the team and report on his/her activities to the rest of the team members. As a Scrum Master, you are in a servant-leadership role and should focus on team coordination by discussing what problems team members might need help with, and how you can remove those obstacles.
2. Problem solving happens outside the stand up
Daily stand up is a place for bringing up any problems a member is facing - but it is definitely not the place to discuss it.
"For example, if someone says “I’m working on the tests for the Registration feature, but I’m having trouble setting up test data”, that’s fine, and hopefully someone will offer to help. But the details of that conversation should take place after the standup."
Longer discussions might not be relevant to other people and takes up time, making the stand up ineffective.
3. Stand ups are not for sprint planning or backlog refinement
In other words, stand ups are not for further discussion or planning of the sprint. They should solely focus on stories in the current one. More specifically, on what happened yesterday and what activities are planned in for today.
4. Avoid vague updates
Vague updates like "I've been working on some code" could be a sign that the team member is not working on tasks defined for this sprint. Maybe he'd been given other work from another team member. Being specific about updates and pointing to the user story being discussed ensures that everyone is on track and working specifically on the tasks allocated to the sprint.
5. Stick to the timeframe
Stand up meetings have a strict timeframe of 15 mins. This allows each person in the scrum team to talk for no more than one minute. If your stand ups are consistently overrunning, it might be a sign of another issue in the company. Often this relates to bad communication during the day between team members, meaning that they feel the need to discuss issues further in their stand ups.
The purpose of the standup is for people to give context to the rest of the team as to what they are working and if they are having any problems. It is not for deep dives or problem solving. For example, if someone says “I’m working on the tests for the Registration feature, but I’m having trouble setting up test data”, that’s fine, and hopefully someone will offer to help. But the details of that conversation should take place after the standup. If two people then start a long discussion on test data setup, you need to park that conversation, because it could take a lot of time and might not be relevant for other people in the team.