One of the most common dysfunctions found in Scrum Teams is the transformation of the Daily Scrum into a status report, where each Developer provides the status of the work item they are developing and, in the end, nobody really knows how they are doing in relation to the Sprint Goal. All of us who have been in Scrum Teams realize that this is not the best way to go... Over time, the Developers become less and less willing to collaborate, each closed off in their own world, until one day you wonder whether you really have a Scrum Team or just a group of people who happen to work together in the same space.

But how can we prevent it? Or, if it's already happening today, how can we begin to remedy it?

It's important to remember the purpose of the Daily Scrum. This is a rapid planning and decision-making event that takes place every day of the Sprint and is attended by all the Developers on the Scrum Team. The purpose is to inspect the progress of the work towards the Sprint Goal and adapt the Sprint Backlog as necessary to optimize the chances of achieving the goal.

Here are some suggestions for promoting greater focus and collaboration in your Daily Scrum:

1- Focus on the Sprint Goal: Remember that the Sprint Goal is the commitment of the Sprint Backlog. As such, it is the best compass that Developers can use to guide their interactions during the Daily Scrum. Ask yourself: "Do we see any obstacles to achieving our Sprint Goal?" and, if so, "How can we remove them today?"

2- Focus on flow: To promote continuous delivery of value, we must actively manage the flow of work in our system. Do we have a bottleneck in any part of our process? Items blocked? Forgotten, deprioritized or simply waiting for something to move forward? Also ask yourself: Which item has been in our flow the longest (including possible blocked items)? What can we do to move these items forward today?

3- Focus on delivering value: Instead of concentrating on the tasks to be carried out by each Developer, collectively ask yourselves: "Which items in our Sprint Backlog are closest to being finished?" and "What can we do to complete them today?". Remember that the idea of value is an assumption until something is actually in the hands of the user. What can we do to make this happen as soon as possible?

4- Focus on continuous improvement: Another potential leverage point of Daily Scrums is that they are a checkpoint for improvement actions identified in the Sprint Retrospective, which may also have been included as part of the Sprint Backlog for the Sprint. Developers can ask themselves: "What are we doing about the improvement items we identified?" and "Is there anything else we can improve today?"

5- Focus on relevant conversations: Last but not least, make sure that the conversations during the Daily Scrum are focused on inspecting the work and that the event doesn't turn into a problem-solving session. The timebox is your best ally here. Regardless of the size of your team, strive to keep the event within the 15-minute timebox. Later sessions can and often are used for exploration and problem-solving.

And here's a congratulations to those who remembered that Focus is one of the 5 Scrum Values! ALL of the Scrum Values can be used to improve the quality of the Daily Scrum (and all other events) in general. 🙂

So, how would you use the other 4 values to further improve your Daily Scrum? What other ideas have you tried in your teams? What was the result?

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