The daily stand-up is the heart of the Scrum process, but many teams lose sight of its value. Even though it’s typically a 15-minute meeting, teams often compromise the process by giving vague or thin updates on their work. Eventually, the lack of updates can undermine an entire team. There are plenty of ways that you can improve Scrum ceremonies like the stand-up meeting, but if you’re not doing things right to begin with, you’ll need to address the problems on a basic level.

In this week’s Noodles & Doodles, I’ll show you the value of delivering a detailed stand-up and break down the ways that you can fix a broken meeting. Enjoy, and don’t forget to subscribe the 352 Inc channel for more content.

Transcript below.

Image credit: Matthew Keefe, CC BY 2.0

[Leo Rodrigues:] Hi, I’m Leo Rodrigues, a software developer here at 352, and today we’ll be talking about the value of a detailed stand-up.
Yesterday, I worked on some stuff. Today, I will work on some more stuff. What if your stand-up sounded like that? It wouldn’t be very useful, would it? But it may actually be sounding like that if not done properly.
Here are a couple of bad examples. I have a story called “Employee Logs Into the System.” If I say, “Yesterday, I worked on the Employee Logs Into the System story, and today I will continue working on that story.” Even though it’s one step better because I actually referred to a story, it still didn’t provide much status of it. What about the story? I still don’t know anything.
Variations of bad examples are: adding fluff to what you’re saying and, particularly classic ones are iterating the rules of Scrum or Stand-ups, saying things like, “Today I’ll pull more items from the backlog as prioritized by the Product Owner.” It’s a correct statement, however, you’re still not saying anything.
Or, “I will help my team close stories.” Yeah, you should do that. But which stories?
So, we have to remember why we do the stand-up. If you finish your stand-up and people still don’t have an idea of the completion of the story, the status, details about what each team member is working on and the overall direction, then there is something wrong.
A couple of key things to remember about stand-ups are transparency, progress of the stories and removal of roadblocks. Roadblocks can be hidden, and if you add detail to your story it may say, “I was working on this certain algorithm and I was having such-and-such difficulty; I had to look some things up, I didn’t quite remember how to do it.” Another developer may jump in and say, “I remember exactly how to do that. Get with me right after this standup, and we’ll fix it.” It’s a hidden roadblock removed. It’s a pairing; you have many concepts going into it.
So, you have to remember that, and here’s how to fix it; here’s a better way. You plan ahead so that your stand-ups are consistent between the previous day, today and the next. You have to be following a roadmap, and your backlog is your roadmap. Listen to what others are saying. That’s where the Scrum Master is very important, and the team members can actually help. If you hear things that sound vague, just ask for clarification. Ask which story that refers to, and you try to clarify with the team and remove that sort of roadblock as a team.
And, finally, speak with your backlog, or to your backlog. Most of the time, you should be referring to stories, tasks or items in the backlog and providing a sense of status and expectation of when you should complete what you’re working on. So, finally, using the same “Employee Logs into the System” story, here’s a better example of what it could sound like.
Grabbing my red marker here.
Okay, so yesterday, I worked on the “employee logs into the system” story and I hooked up the membership provider to use active directory. That was a goal for the story. That’s done. I also encrypted the main password in the web config, so if anybody has any trouble finding that password, come to me, I’ll tell you how to de-encrypt it and we’ll go from there.
Today, or until my next stand-up, I will now work on the log-in logic to tie everything together and make it available for my views or my front end to actually use the logic and log-in. And I know John just mentioned he was wrapping up the design and he will be working on the front end to actually use the logic that I’ll be providing. So, we actually expect the story to be completed today.
So, something like that provides a much better sense of progress. We actually said we expect this to complete today. Much more detailed, not too much, but just enough detail to keep everyone with a good understanding of where the stories stand in the backlog.
That’s it. That’s how you fix it.
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