Don’t be a Scrum Zombie


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September 16, 2010

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ZombieInspired by the slide „Don’t be Scrum Zombie“ from Henrik Kniberg’s Keynote at Scrum Gathering in Cape Town I want to talk a bit about the Daily Scrum. Because IMHO the Daily Scrum is the most underestimated Scrum meeting.

Every Scrum team knows the most famous 3 questions asked at the Daily Scrum:

  • What did you do yesterday?
  • What will you do today?
  • Is anything in your way?

For some teams this meeting is just an annoying duty and because of that the questions are answered passionless. One thing that I observed in the last weeks and month is how the questions are weighted. The first question about the last working day is answered in every detail while the second question is answered quite short and if the third question is answered at all this is only done by stating that there are currently no problems. So the biggest part of the meeting is about talking of the past. The future and the impediments are just ignored. IMHO this is a big problem and should be avoided.

What did you do yesterday?

The answer to this question doesn’t has to be a detailed list of all tasks you’ve done yesterday. Also it isn’t meant to find out who finished the most tasks and was apparently the most hard-working team member. In short the point isn’t to create a report for the ScrumMaster, Product Owner or a stakeholder. Instead the answer should only contain information that is beneficial for all team members and important for the rest of the sprint. In this way the information is interesting and valuable for all team members, everybody listens and benefits from it.

What will you do today?

Often this question is answered with a simple „I’ll continue working on…“. This has nothing to do with a tactical approach. Every team member should mindfully observe the meeting and contemplate what’s the next reasonable step to support the team in reaching the sprint goal. Especially team members of new Scrum teams tend to think about their own tasks instead of thinking and working as a team. It isn’t important to start working on all tasks of the Sprint Backlog but to work on the tasks one by one together. At best two team members are working on one task simultaneously by using techniques like pair programming. This is why the Daily Scrum is also the perfect place to decide who will pair with whom. The Daily Scrum is a small planning meeting this is why you should use it like this.

Is anything in your way?

Interestingly this is the most unanswered question of the three. In the end all of the hidden problems pop up in the Sprint Retrospective even though they could be solved during the sprint. But to be able to solve them somebody has to name them. The reasons for this behavior are manifold. Some team members believe that their ScrumMaster isn’t capable to solve their problem. The other team members are just used to solve their problems on their own. But especially these hidden problems and impediments are often the ones that are the cause for a missed sprint goal. Only if everybody knows about what is in their way the team is able to kick it out of their way towards the sprint goal.

So don’t behave like a Scrum zombie. The Daily Scrum isn’t an annoying duty but a chance to do the next step in direction sprint goal.

About the author 

Marc Löffler

Marc Löffler ist Keynote-Speaker, Autor und Mentor für passionierte Scrum Master. Er befasst sich schon seit 2005 leidenschaftlich mit agilen Methoden, wie z.B. Scrum, Kanban oder eXtreme Programming. Bevor er mit dem Thema Agilität in Berührung gekommen war, hat er als zertifizierter Projektmanager (IPMA) bei Firmen wie Volkswagen, Siemens und EADS erfolgreich multinationale Projekte geleitet. Mit Begeisterung hilft er Unternehmen dabei, agile Werte zu verstehen und genau die Form von Agilität zu finden, die zum jeweiligen Unternehmen passt. Dabei nutzt er sein PASSION Modell, um die jeweilige Situation zu analysieren und sinnvolle nächste Schritte hin zur passionierten, agilen Organisation zu definieren. Er liebt es, neue Einsichten zu generieren, und unterstützt Unternehmen dabei, Probleme aus kreativen, neuen Blickwinkeln zu betrachten. Seit September 2018 ist er zertifizierter Professional Speaker GSA (SHB) mit der besten Keynote seines Jahrgangs. Im Jahr 2014 erschien sein Buch „Retrospektiven in der Praxis“ beim dpunkt.verlag. Im Jahr 2018 folgte das Buch „Improving Agile Retrospectives“ bei Addison Wesley. Im Februar 2022 folgte dann das Buch "Die Scrum Master Journey" beim BusinessVillage Verlag.

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  2. It seems like the Daily Scrum is redundant not underestimated. With a well tuned team why would you wait till the daily scrum to get a roadblock removed? Also, the same for anything that is important for the whole team to know about – why wait? It appears to go against the idea of speed and agility. Which turns people into zombies… right?

    1. I whole-heartly agree with your opinion. But on the other hand there are a lot of teams out there, with bad or no communication at all. The Daily Scrum helps them to improve their communication but you’re right, this shouldn’t stop there.

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