Scrum is a terrific set of ideas for getting work done of any kind. It’s mostly used as one set of concepts in the Agile Software Development way of thinking! At Passageways, I introduced Agile early in our company’s history as a way for us to better react to changing needs amongst customers and being able to nimbly address those needs rapidly, without compromising code quality and stability.

So part of our process is the idea of a scrum meeting. The origin of this comes from rugby and describes a situation in which the entire team interlocks their arms and attempts to move a ball in a single direction forward. This analogy works well for team-based projects where teams are trying to move the project in a common direction.

When teams get to be more than 2 people, there is a communication need that arises that if not done correctly can result in team members doing work that is not relevant and may eventually be thrown out because team members misinterpreted something or were not in sync with other team members. This can be very costly to the project, and in the case of software development, very expensive with developers being some of the most expensive resources in a software company.

The scrum meeting is designed to provide the team a scheduled forum in which to sync up quickly and keep things from going too far off the deep end. The basic idea is that the team decides on a specific time every day to meet. Generally, this is the first meeting of the day so possibly 8 or 9 a.m. Some general rules for the meeting format are outlined below:

Rules for a Scrum Meeting

  • Should take place at the same time each day
  • Timeboxed at 15 minutes maximum
  • Every team member stands (no sitting allowed)
  • Nothing is discussed, only answers to 3 questions are given (discussions and follow-up happen after the scrum finishes)
  • Each team member answers the following 3 questions
    • What I did yesterday
    • What I plan to do today
    • What obstacles are preventing me from doing my work

Keeping the meeting at 15 minutes ensures everyone listens and only answers their questions. The “why” for discrepancies is answered after the scrum meeting breaks up.

Alleviating Obstacles

Generally each team has a team lead or project lead. It is this person’s responsibility to listen to each member’s obstacles and then after the scrum finishes, to remove those obstacles. The primary role of the project lead is to remove obstacles so the team members can do their work and move the ball forward!

The idea of having this very informal scrum meeting each morning seems like a fun exercise but not one that will be productive….at first. Try it, you’ll be surprised how much more in sync your team becomes after doing this every single day throughout the project. Again, scrums are not status update meetings, but rather are sync-up and report meetings. Your team members will remain focused and will always be aware of what others are working on. That ball will move towards its goal faster and if you are the project lead, you’ll look amazing! Plus your team will like the experience and appreciate being kept in sync too!

Other Scrum Resources