How detailed drawing is your Daily Scrum?
Years ago I stumbled across a 10 minutes / 1 minute / 10 seconds drawing challenge on the internet. The challenge came to my mind after I promised to my children to draw them My Little Ponies in 2 minute challenges. My goal was to produce at least somewhat recognisable end results as I knew there was not enough time to strive for perfection. Judging from the excitement of my small foremen, I reached my goals.
After my hot seat, I ended up watching videos of the original drawing challenge. I was surprised by how much the tactics chosen by the artists resembled to the Scrum team's daily meetings that I'm very familiar with. Whether it's about drawing or sharing progress to other team members, it seems that:
- there are people who draw just a few lines roughly, but can still share recognisable end result to others
- and there are people who start outlining the overall picture, but become absorbed in the tiniest details
- or a team can draw a shared picture and supplement each other's pictures
- or they end up going all over the place and draw everything under the sun, filling even the largest canvases entirely
Daily? What an earth is that?
” Daily Scrums improve communications, identify impediments, promote quick decision-making, and consequently eliminate the need for other meetings.”
(Scrum Guide 2020 – Ken Schwaber & Jeff Sutherland)
Quick daily meetings - more commonly known as Daily Scrums - are widely known by the agile community from Scrum. Although the framework dates back to the software development projects in the 1990's, it's proven to be a useful way of working in many domains, especially when the path to desired goal is not clear. One event of Scrum that has been considered extremely useful is the Daily Scrum: a time-boxed event of 15 minutes that provides the team an opportunity to inspect and adapt their work towards the chosen goal.
It's good to notice that Scrum is not the only concept suggesting a quick daily meeting. Patrick Lencioni, who has become known from his leadership fables, raised up a similar concept in one of his books called Daily Check-In. The Check-In is one of the four meeting types that Lencioni recommends to help tackle and improve the frustrating meetings everyone knows - those that don't require much activity from participants and are run through with almost similar format time after time. In the book, the goal of the check-in is to share the most relevant events and schedule of the upcoming day in. 5-10 minutes.
“The purpose of the Daily Check-In is to help avoid confusion and to provide a quick forum for ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks and that no-one steps onto anyone else's toes.”
(Condensed from source: Death by Meeting – Patrick Lencioni, 2004)
We tried it, didn't go like in Strömsö
Sometimes the 15 minute time-box brings difficulties to team - and remote working is not necessary helping the situation. Small teams that work and collaborate together effectively are of course ideal and desired goal, but in real life not all teams have this option. When the size of agile teams is over 10 people, or every team member has their own individual work to do, or the only common time in the calendar is the 15 minutes in Daily, keeping the time box becomes a challenge. In these situations the art of simplicity and focus - maximising the lines not drawn - becomes invaluable.
Observe your own team in the next Daily. What kind of a drawing are you working on? Can you sketch the key things in 15 minutes or do you dive into polishing the details? Or do you even end up drawing everything that comes to mind?
P.S. If you are interested in the drawing challenge that inspired this blog, you can try it out yourself with the help of this video.
P.P.S. And I if you haven't heard about this wonderful place called Strömsö, where everything always goes perfectly as planned, you might want to investigate if Strömsö is real?
In case you want sparring and coaching - whether it is about agile teams, daily meetings or portfolio management and agile leadership - don't hesitate to contact us!
Tuuli Pesonen (writer worked at Loihde Advisory until December 2022)