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This article was originally published in the Fall 2008 issue of Methods & Tools


Opening Communication within a Scrum Team

Mike Vizdos, www.implementingscrum.com

Introduction

This article examines something called "The Daily Scrum Meeting" used by Scrum Teams on Agile Software Development Projects around the world. Using some real-life stories and cartoons, you should walk away from this with a better understanding of what not to do, what to do, and then how you can make changes if the first team looks more like what your Scrum Team is doing today.

Before we start, Iíd like to introduce you to the concept of a Chicken and Pig on a Scrum Project. I think this comic strip will help you when thinking more about the context of this article.

Team X -- Scrum Meeting -- 8:38 AM Tuesday Morning

The room for the Daily Scrum Meeting is the best-of-the-best conference room in their organization, containing thousand dollar plus individual leather chairs around an imported teak wood conference table, with coffee and donuts available. A state-of-the-art conference calling system in place.

The Daily Scrum is supposed to start at 8:30, and only 1/2 the team is there. Nobody bothered calling into the conference bridge line. Of the Scrum Team Members who are there, one just rolled in from an all night party smelling of smoke and cheap liquor. He is clearly hung over (and possibly still drunk). Again. Nobody on the team seems surprised. People are chatting on their phones or thumb-typing into the crack berries.

No ScrumMaster is present. Instead of the Product Owner being in attendance, a Senior VP has decided to show up, and so far she does not seem impressed. She is looking at her watch. And. Looking at someone to take charge. Clearly in her mind this Scrum thing is not in control. She is planning on talking to the Product Owner right after this meeting if she can find that committee of people.

The drunk team member rips out a large burp, and hangs his head over the back of the chair, moaning.

It is now 8:45. The team looks around the room at each other and decides the Daily Scrum meeting is over. They spent their fifteen minutes in the conference room and all of the good donuts are gone anyway. Thatís what they expect a Scrum Team should be doing on a daily basis. All Scrum Team members leaving sighing in relief an thinking, "We have real work to do, this is such a waste of my time."

All the team members head back to their cubicles in different parts of the campus, the drunk one heading to the bathroom to pray to the Porcelain Princess. The Senior VP is standing there. In shock. Thinking, "Heads will roll on this." E-mail wars begin going up and down the chain of command. There is no ScrumMaster in sight. The Senior VPís telephone starts ringing with a familiar tone from Jimmy Buffet. The lights go out and she leaves the room very frustrated, thinking now is a good time to get HR to make sure they get a Project Manager to take control of this ScrumMaster job they are clearly not doing today.

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