Three Dysfunctions of a Standup Meeting (and How to Fix Them!)

Central to most agile work environments is the short daily standup meeting.   The team gathers in a designated location, briefly shares what they each have worked on, what obstacles they are facing, and what they plan to do before the next meeting.   In a perfect world, information is shared, problems are addressed or the scrum master takes ownership and helps the team out.   The team leaves feeling accomplished and re-energized to tackle the next 24 hours.   When scrum meetings start to fail, however, it can cause the team to take a huge productivity hit.   Here are three signs to watch for, and a few tips on solving these problems before they negatively affect the team.

daily scrum meeting

1.   The standup meetings are toooo looonnnngggg.     Effective standups should be 15 minutes max.   Longer meetings can come from a variety of factors.   Is the team too large?  Think about breaking the team into two scrum teams.  Are complicated designs being worked out in the standup?  Encourage statuses that ask for design help to meet after scrum or at another time to work out details.   Are people lingering?  Make sure they really are standing up during the stand-up.  It helps move the meeting along!

2.  Everyone is reporting status to their manager, not to each other.   Stress to the team that the standups are for them.   If they still do not focus, try to encourage the manager to step back for a few days and let the team meet independently.   Encourage the manager to give any feedback they have for tea members outside of the standup meetings.

3.  Team members are disengaged and only focused on individual tasks.   Encourage design and code reviews outside the standup.   Switch up tasks and areas of expertise to help with cross training and engagement.   Look for ways to bring in epic stories that require more than one person to focus on them during a given iteration.

With these techniques, you can help re-focus and re-energize your scrum meetings.  What other dysfunctions have you observed?  What tricks have you used to address these?

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