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Turning the Daily Scrum Upside Down

October 30, 2009

At the start of the last Sprint my team decided to move our Daily Scrum from 8:30 in the morning to 4:45 in the afternoon. Typically these meetings are done first thing in the morning, and for the last eighteen months that’s the way my team has operated. The change was not made because our morning stand-ups weren’t working, but after a little bit of conversation and observations over the last few months we thought we could make them better.

The workday for most Point2 developers starts at around 8 am, and wraps up at 5 pm. Since I’ve been a Team Lead I’ve held all of my teams’ stand-ups at 8:30. The idea was that it gave people a reasonable amount of time to check their email, get their coffee, and take care of whatever else they needed to prior to diving into the day’s work. Below is some of the things that we thought weren’t working as well as they could.

  • The previous day’s work was anywhere between 11 and 20 hours in the past, and no longer fresh in the developers mind.
  • We were seeing an awkward period of time in the morning between 8 am and 9am where developers were unsure what they should be working on. Do the pairs from the previous day get back together for 45 minutes?
  • Stand-ups would often go over the 15 minute time-box since the team was sometimes “too thorough” in their contributions.
  • There were four other teams having their Daily Scrums more-or-less around the same time in the morning, making it difficult for some representatives (systems, technical support) to attend all of the ones that were relevant to them.

So it has been a week since we began the experiment and during today’s Sprint Retrospective, this is what the team has observed.

  • The contributions made by each of the developers seems very thorough, with them no longer forgetting to mention something of importance. I personally think that the quality of the contributions have increased as well. All week phrases like, “I forget what my pair and I did in the morning, but….” were not heard.
  • As the developers start to roll into the office in the morning at around 8 o’clock, they already know what they are going to be working on since we setup our plan the previous day, including who they are going to pair with. Once they finish checking their email and grabbing their coffees they can get started on their day’s work. That awkward 45 minutes seems to have been eliminated.
  • Since we have some team members that need to be out of the office at 5 pm our stand-ups now have a hard time-box. People have obligations outside of the office and will make an effort to ensure their contributions are on point and efficient.
  • Our stand-up no longer coincides with any other teams’ so anyone who needs to attend can do so.

We understand that there are some scenarios we didn’t encounter that will take some creative thinking to overcome. Since we are devising our plan the day before, a developer calling in sick, or a production issue popping up overnight will throw a wrench into our plan. We agreed that these scenarios are not a regular occurrence and can be dealt with on a one-off basis.

As a team we have decided to continue our experiment during our next Sprint which kicks off on Monday. Despite all of the positive things we have seen so far everyone still feels that one week isn’t quite enough time to fully evaluate the modification. However one thing is for sure – we are all comfortable in making changes to our processes when something isn’t working, or just needs to get better.  Being agile has allowed us to flip an entire process upside down without second guessing ourselves.  We’re all out to make the best team we can, and are not afraid to make some course corrections along the way.

By Hemant J. Naidu

  1. March 23, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    Interesting. I’ve been considering doing the exact same thing. Did you end up keeping the afternoon daily scrum?

    • March 23, 2012 at 1:00 PM

      You bet. We’re still doing this today.

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