Getting a team over the fear of daily scrums

::Originally posted on the Pathfinder Development's Blog::

If my previous post about the value of agile meetings over traditional status meetings got you interested, I want to share a common pattern of behavior I often see from teams trying scrums for the first time. Hopefully you can avoid these and save yourself some time.

For new teams to Agile the statuses given in scrums are generally … well … lies. “Yep, on time. No obstacles.” I was once told by a colleague that, “You can’t hide on an Agile team.” This is true. However, this kind of exposure can be extremely uncomfortable for individuals to get used to. In traditional software teams people aren’t used to their peers asking them direct questions and paying close attention to their progress.

With some time and gentle nudging the team will begin to enjoy the help and support offered by a fully engaged team. The next pattern I see teams fall into is to try and solve any, and all problems, right in the scrum. When you hear about teams having trouble getting the scrum to fit into less than 15 minutes this is often what’s going on. When this happens the scrum master needs to remind participants that they can discuss the issues outside the scrum.

Once the scrums are moving well the next objective will be to facilitate good communication. Now that the team is really sharing and isn’t trying to solve the problem in the scrum, they usually offer to write an email/document/dissertation about the problem and possible solutions to get feedback. They usually do this to allow the others some space and to dive into the details. Why not just talk immediately after the scrum? Everybody is in the same place and thinking about the problem. If you are pair programming already, why not troubleshoot the issue together? If you aren’t pair programming start! If you really can’t fix the problem immediately due to a pressing issue you should schedule a meeting as soon as possible. If an issue is brought up in a scrum it is a blocking issue impacting the whole team’s ability to deliver the iteration on time. Its time to get all the help you can. Good communication can help a team solve an issue in a matter of hours rather than days.

The result: Everybody’s time frees up and the “extra” meetings imposed by “agile” result in less meetings overall.

Photo Credit: under a Creative Commons Attribution License

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