I’ve been watching Darren step into his new role at Readify with some interest. One of the things that he has to do is get a handle on all the current internal projects that are kicking around. We discussed some of the issues he was having getting an appropriate level of feedback from people working on those projects and I floated the idea of having a daily scrum to improve communication.
Darren was already thinking along the same lines but the challenges were obvious – how do you do a daily scrum in a virtual organisation?
What is a Daily Scrum?
A daily scrum is a strictly controlled meeting which asks each participant three different questions:
- What did you finish since the last meeting?
- What are you going to finish between now and the next meeting?
- What are the impediments that are affecting your work?
These questions work really well if you hold the daily scrum each day because they narrow the scope of estimation down to approximately twenty-four hours and it gets people to commit to delivering work on a daily basis.
The first question is a retrospective so people get automatic feedback on the accuracy of their previous estimate. The second question is a the new estimate, and the third question is really for the Scrum Master who takes those impediments onboard and sees what they can do to remove them.
More important than the questions though is the manner in which they are asked. The meeting is a pure status report. Go in, provide your status, get out. No other communication (other than asking and answering those three questions) is allowed.
So what does a Readify Daily Scum look like?
Who knows – Darren has only been running them for a few days. He seems to be asking the same questions, except he is using e-mail. The difference between e-mail and a face to face meeting is that the e-mail is asynchronous and the face to face meeting is synchronous.
Using asynchronous communication gives the team members the scope to go dark and hold off answering until they have something good to report – you don’t actually want this. One of the fundamental principles of software development is get the bad news early so you have time to work around it.
The help address this issue Darren is sending out an e-mail in the morning with a quick summary of what TFS is telling him, and correlates that against what people said they would be working on the day before – but the gem is that he puts a timelimit on when people have to reply by, therefore making it “kinda-synchronous”.
I’m looking forward to seeing how this particular implementation of the daily scrum goes!