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I am a scrum master for two years, and recently one of my peers raised a concern that our stand-ups are taking too long. While I am trying to keep the first part of the stand-up (i.e. updates) as short as possible, post-scrums take up to half an hour since there are usually 3-4 topics to discuss, each taking 5-7 minutes. What are known best practices of having effective stand-ups, including post scrums, and what are the responsibilities of the facilitator in this case? For example, one of the approaches I was recommended is converting long discussions into meetings.

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    Why do you feel responsible for managing the team's interactions outside the formal Scrum ceremonies? – Todd A. Jacobs May 8 '16 at 5:02
  • @CodeGnome Good question, an assumption in our team is that post-scrum is a formal Scrum ceremony. There are a couple of reasons I see: 1) Usually there are a few items that require input from multiple team members, and sometimes there is overlap between people who should be involved in each conversation 2) Since there is no allocated time for a post-scrum, people who are involved in many aspects of the project and spend more than half-an-hour in it, "lose" 5 hours during a two week sprint. This makes us believe that effective facilitation by a scrum master is required for post-scrums – Nutel May 10 '16 at 17:57
  • Stop doing "post scrums" do better acceptance criteria – Ewan May 17 '16 at 17:02
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What you are describing may well be healthy Scrum behaviour.

Scrum relies on communication between the development team members as this promotes synchronisation and improves team effectiveness.

It is important to remember that healthy conversation is often a productive use of time for team members.

As a Scrum Master if I saw several conversations happening after each daily Scrum meeting then I would be happy. The exceptions to this are if the conversation only concerns some of the team, but the whole team is staying to listen to them.

Some suggestions you might want to make to the team are:

  • If discussions are about improvements they could possibly be held back for the sprint retrospective
  • If the discussions are about design/architecture, then possibly the team would benefit from having regular design/architecture meetings?
  • If discussions are about the backlog then possibly the team needs more planned backlog refinement time.
  • As a facilitator, the Scrum Master might want to find a good location for the daily Scrum so that once the meeting is finished it is easy for the team to split up and complete any additional conversations that are needed. A good location might be a break-out area with lots of separate seating.
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Purpose of daily scrum meetings

Daily standup meetings help the team in tracking its progress with reference to their commitment. They have made a commitment to deliver agreed upon tasks during a time-boxed duration, so they sync up daily for better team coordination to achieve the sprint goal.

As per the scrum guide:

The Scrum Master ensures that the Development Team has the meeting, but the Development Team is responsible for conducting the Daily Scrum. The Scrum Master teaches the Development Team to keep the Daily Scrum within the 15-minute time-box.

http://www.scrumguides.org/scrum-guide.html

What a scrum meeting is NOT

  • It is not a planning meeting
  • It is not a status update meeting for managers
  • It is not for doing technical discussion and problem solving

The daily scrum meeting is not a status update meeting in which a boss is collecting information about who is behind schedule. Rather, it is a meeting in which team members make commitments to each other.

https://www.mountaingoatsoftware.com/agile/scrum/daily-scrum

Role of scrum master

The team is supposed to conduct daily standups. As a Scrum Master its your job to facilitate the team and make sure that process is being followed. Coach them to make the standups effective as opposed to having just mechanical updates during the daily ritual.

The Scrum Master ensures that the Development Team has the meeting, but the Development Team is responsible for conducting the Daily Scrum. The Scrum Master teaches the Development Team to keep the Daily Scrum within the 15-minute time-box.

http://www.scrumguides.org/scrum-guide.html

Remember: There is no such thing as post-scrum in Scrum. In case there is a need to have technical discussions or problem solving session then arrange a separate meeting and invite just the concerned team members instead of the whole team.

  • To the extent that the team is coordinating the current day's activities, I'd say it is a planning meeting for the daily increment. It's just semantics, but I think ignoring the immediate-term planning aspect often leads to stand-ups that are just team status pulls. For reference, see this description of the daily stand-up. – Todd A. Jacobs May 8 '16 at 5:00
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What are known best practices of having effective stand-ups, including post scrums, and what are the responsibilities of the facilitator in this case?

I will split your question:

What are known best practices of having effective stand-ups, ...

In this case I would follow the scrum guide. Have all team members answer the three questions. I've heard many Scrum Masters say, that these questions are boring and outdated. But not answering these questions may lead into missing focus regarding the sprint goal.

If all team members focus on answering the three questions, the daily should be done within the timebox of 15 minutes.

..., including post scrums, ...

Let the team members always talk about issues that lead to a successful sprint! In my opinion you should never wait for improvement until the retrospective. Because in the worst case you will wait four weeks (for a four week sprint) until a problem will be discussed the first time...

This leads to one of the most important questions:

...,and what are the responsibilities of the facilitator in this case?

All discussions should be facilitated! As a Scrum Master you are responsible for the quality of the cooperation. Facilitated discussion means, that you care for the structure and the team cares for the content of a discussion. You help keeping the focus on the discussed issues. Make sure, that the outcome is SMART ( „Specific Measurable Accepted Realistic Time Bound“). So everyone knows what to do after the discussion.

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As it turned out, our programmers (the team has only 15 people) do not like long meetings, regular monitoring, and reports as well - it annoys them and distracts from working. So at the end of it, we concluded that we need only 2-3 techniques, which do not detract their attention away, while the project/product manager does the rest for them - analysis and grooming of tasks, prioritization of them, the implementation plan for new features, and so on.

So, we employ the following practices:

  1. daily stand-ups, but not in the classic version, standing and alive, but through a bot in Slack. Even if the team is in the same office, they prefer this way of reporting and meetings
  2. retrospectives at the end of the sprint
  3. sometimes, quite rarely, we run polls on the current sprint or on the priority of tasks.

This is enough for us, that’s why guided by the principle of Occam's razor, we do not multiply entities beyond necessity.

That's why I highly recommend trying Standuply.com This is a project management tool for Slack. I believe it is perfect for your team as well, especially if you have a part of the team working remotely. We use it for several years, and the whole team is extremely pleased with that. This app really reduces the work of managers and makes life easier in the process of developing complex products. This is not advertising - just friendly advice.

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When we started with Scrum we had a similar problem. The scrum was new for all parties and we struggled to have the daily stand-ups short and informative.

Gradually we got better though.

We got better by emphasizing one simple thing. The daily scum is not discussion for adaptation. As you probably know that Scrum as empirical control process is based on three pillars: Transparency, Inspection and Adaptation. While daily scrum is needed for sprint inspection, the adaptation should be done outside of the stand-up. The daily scrum is to find out that something needs to be done and eventually who should be evolved. The sub-groups should discuss this after whenever it is the most convenient.

After the inspection part you have to say: "The daily is over, please align with each other if needed be". And simply go. If they think the whole team should stay and listen, well, so be it, but give the opportunity to not-involved to continue to work. Not everyone needs to listen to everyone.

When you start to do it, people will not take the discussions after as a part of daily scrum anymore.

I know that it is tempting to facilitate this post daily discussion as well, but like that the team will never learn that they are responsible for execution of the Sprint, not Scrum Master. Step inside only when you find out they need your help to move forward.

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