Saturday, June 03, 2006

Why the Three Questions in the Daily Scrum Meeting?

What did you do yesterday?

A huge accelerator in a Scrum occurs when every developer sees the entire progress of the project every day. Hyperproductivity ensues when the typical comment becomes, "Wow, I thought it was going to take 3 days to do my next task, but I see from what you did yesterday that 3 lines of code and one hour are all that is necessary!"

This question tests the focus of the team. Anything done that was not work on the backlog is questioned. Meetings that are interfering with the Scrum are reduced or eliminated. Participants who repeatedly do not further work on the backlog may be removed from the Scrum.

It also generates peer pressure to get stuff done that is impeding progress of others.

The ScrumMaster wants to know what tasks are "done" and whether tasks in progress will complete as expected. If estimates are expanding or new tasks are discovered, this will change the burndown chart.

The ScrumMaster also wants to minimize work in progress. To many open tasks at once introduces risk into the Sprint and is an early warning that delays may be expected.

What will you do today?

This question replaces GANTT charts. Dependencies are constantly changing. Answering this question revises project strategy on a daily basis by reorienting the team due to dependency changes that were revealed by the previous question.

The question also surfaces dependencies or tasks that may have been overlooked. This will revise the plan in the minds of the team.

It also tests the focus of the team. Anything to be done that does not further progress is questioned.

The ScrumMaster wants to know what new tasks are starting. Failure to see tasks opening and closing regularly is an early warning that things may be going off track.

What is blocking progress?

Impediments to progress are often caused by software or technology not showing up at the right time. The ScrumMaster or the team may be able to resolve this. Otherwise, management must fix it.

Blocks are often due to meetings irrelevant to the SCRUM. Often management must get involved to fix this.

Hard technical problems often slow things down. The team can often fix this. Alternatively, management must bring in other resources.

This question will create issues that may result in new tasks in the backlog. It could revise the plan.

The most important effect of this question is to create a list of impediments that are assigned to the team or to managers. A major responsibility of the ScrumMaster is the manage, prioritize, and assure this impediment backlog is burned down. The Scrum team should expect management to help work the impediment backlog. Eliminating bottlenecks is the fastest way to improve productivity. See Goldratt's book, "The Goal." All managers should read this book. Developers will find it useful also.



One of the biggest impediments to improving productivity in Scrum teams that I see in many companies is failure of the ScrumMaster to track and prioritize impediments. Management cannot help fix them if they are not clearly identified along with a recommended plan of action.

3 comments:

Peter Hundermark said...

A helpful reinforcement of the reasons for and benefits of the daily scrum.
I'm intrigued, though, but the relatively unconnected reference to Goldratt. Do ToC and CCPM marry with Scrum? Or is it simply that management must stop bad practices like multi-tasking and setting meaningless objectives that have no scientific or human behavioural basis?

Jeff Sutherland said...

Let's take the simple ideas in Goldratt's book, "The Goal." Here he
points out that eliminating bottle necks is the key to gaining
throughput. It is like tuning a software system.

You look for the biggest bottleneck and eliminate it. Then you let the
system restabilize. Then go after the next biggest bottleneck.

This is the way to go after impediments in Scrum.

If management will not eliminate the biggest bottleneck, Scrum will
never reach its potential. Although even a bad Scrum is better than no-Scrum as many companies have observed.

SCRUMLABS said...

Hi, I have been working with a fast growing company here in the UK for the last month. I explain Agile Software Management in terms of frameworks (e.g SCRUM), Engineering Practices such as XP, Theory of Contraints (TOC) and critical chain analysis, Lean Thinking, Total Quality Management, and RAD etc. I asked Ken Schwaber last week why on a slide he was showing, the roots of SCRUM did not include TOC because asking for impediments was the same as trying to find out the constraints the team are working with. He explained that it was simply because they did not think about it at the time. When I talk about SCRUM to large groups of people I get some enthusiasm. When I explain TOC across the software delivery chain the lights start to come on - and when I link SCRUM daily impediments to TOC the audience is then on board. Yes there is a definitie link, and a company that is practising SCRUM combined with TOC across the entire software delivery chain is a powerful organisation.