Scrum Rules: The Three Questions of the Daily Scrum

June 12, 2020
5 minute read

The Daily Scrum meeting is a critical method for creating transparency between Team Members and every day, each Team Member in turn answers the three questions of the Daily Scrum: what tasks have I completed, what tasks will I complete before the next Daily Scrum, and what obstacles do I have to doing my work?

These questions are designed to ensure that all team members know what everyone else is doing regardless of if one or another team member thinks something is “important” to know. This transparency gives the team a regular rhythm of “Inspect and Adapt”. Since the Daily Scrum is meant to be short, any discussion of the work should be held until after the Daily Scrum is complete. To be clear: the Daily Scrum is not meant to be a problem solving meeting and treating it so can lead to people failing to be as transparent as needed (or to breaking the time-box for the Daily Scrum which leads to other problems).

The Scrum Master plays a critical role in ensuring that this rule is followed. The Scrum Master is a facilitator of all the Scrum meetings including the Daily Scrum. As such, the Scrum Master uses any number of facilitation techniques to help the team keep on the intended agenda of the Daily Scrum. The Scrum Master should always begin the Daily Scrum meeting with a reminder of the rules of the Daily Scrum. If the Scrum Master has not been doing this, then a gentle introduction can be made. For example, the Scrum Master could say something like, “In the past I have not restricted discussion during our Daily Scrum. In Scrum we focus on just the three questions. Let’s start trying to do this. It will help keep the meeting brief and ensure that the purposes of transparency and self-organization are attained.” If the Daily Scrum still has excessive discussion after these reminders, it is often due to a small number of individuals. The Scrum Master can escalate to the use of public techniques like a “talking stick” or have private discussions with the individuals to encourage them to follow the rule. If gentle techniques do not work, the Scrum Master may bring up the problem in the Retrospective. Ask the team, “what will it take for us to focus solely on the three questions of the Daily Scrum and avoid extra discussion?” The Scrum Master should find a way to take that discussion to the point of practical ideas and action items, not just people generally agreeing to moderate their own behaviour. As usual, the Scrum Master should ensure that these action items are carried out in the next Sprint. Finally, in extreme cases, the Scrum Master should feel free to interject during the Daily Scrum if two or more people are engaged in discussion outside the three questions of the meeting. This interjection should really be considered a last resort. If a Scrum Master does not have a good set of meeting facilitation and group facilitation skills, we strongly recommend systematic development of those skills. One last point needs to be made: if the team is not co-located, this rule is much more difficult to follow since Team Members will have many more issues “stored up” to discuss than they would otherwise.

During the meeting, the Development Team members explain: What did I do yesterday that helped the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal? What will I do today to help the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal? Do I see any impediment that prevents me or the Development Team from meeting the Sprint Goal?

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Capital One
Equitable Life of Canada
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