Why your Daily Scrums suck (part 2)

Never ever let it be 16 minutes!

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There is a reason why the Daily Scrum is timeboxed to 15min max!
A Daily Scrum should never last longer than 15 minutes!

Sign of the times

Many Daily Scrums I see as a coach are longer than 15 minutes. Even if they keep the timebox 90% of the time, they occasionally last for 20, 30 or even 40 minutes sometimes! This is not good! A Daily Scrum should be 15 minutes max — 100% of the time!

Why only 15 minutes?

Is there a reason to limit the Daily Scrum to 15 minutes? Or is this just a recommendation?

Warning signs

Of course it is easy to detect, whether you stay within 15 minutes with your Daily Scrum or not. But it is also important to watch the signs, which are already consequences of a Daily Scrum NOT staying within the timebox:

Running over

Yes, some teams don’t even notice, that 15 minutes are up! If you consistently (even occasionally) run over the time limit, it is a warning sign!

Not keeping an eye on time

If nobody feels responsible for watching the clock and reminding everybody else about the timebox, you have a lingering problem.

People can’t make appointments after the Daily Scrum

Also if you notice that people refrain from scheduling meetings right after the Daily Scrum, you should see this as a warning sign. It usually means that team members don’t feel confident enough that the meeting will take only 15 minutes.

Team members are bored and unmotivated

A consequence of Daily Scrums, that drag on longer than 15 minutes, are bored team members who loath the Daily Scrum. They begin to see the meeting as a chore and try to avoid it.

Weeklies

And if the development team doesn’t reap any benefits from the Daily Scrum, they often ask to turn it into a bi-daily or even weekly meeting! You wouldn’t believe how often I have heard “a daily standup meeting is just too much — we turned it into a weekly instead”. This is a big warning sign! If you see these kind of weeklies, your Daily Scrums did not provide any value for the development team.

How to fix it

Once you understand how important it is to keep the 15 minute timebox, it’s easy to see the fixes:

Set a timer

Appoint someone to watch the clock

End the meeting when time is up!

Summary

Timeboxing is such a simple yet powerful agile technique (learn more about it in 7 Secrets to Master Timeboxing) — use it to your advantage! Always end a Daily Scrum after a maximum time of 15 minutes. You will see that the team will quickly adapt and focus, so that all important coordination can be handled within 15min every day.

Agile Coach, Business Innovator, Software Engineer, Musician

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