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Staying on track during a remote Daily Scrum when communication is challenging

With the approach to work in what feels like a constant state of flux, certain Scrum events need to adapt. In particular, your daily scrum (some refer to it as a daily standup) may require some adjustments to accommodate the hybrid work approach.

According to the Scrum Guide, a typical daily scrum is a 15-minute for the developers on the team to focus on their progress towards the sprint goal and what upcoming work they need to do to accomplish it. They can choose whatever structure they want to achieve this. The daily scrum is not an event that is “run” by the Scrum Master. They ensure the event goes smoothly and within the time frame.

When adding remote to the mix, team member interactions take a hit. Talking over one another, interrupting, and ignoring are common side effects of not being in the room. Talking over one another takes multiple forms. It could be one person speaking over another. It could be a side conversation that is distracting to other participants. Interrupting may happen because someone has connection issues and doesn’t know if others are speaking. Others may ignore whoever is speaking because their mind is entirely on something else, like the work they are trying to finish.

Another issue a team may run into is staying on track. They may find themselves running over the standard 15 minutes with continued conversation. Engaging and important conversations tend to make the daily scrum run long. These are worthwhile conversations, and the daily scrum has brought the necessary parties together. There may not be a better time to have this talk. Conversations like this tend to keep people at the daily scrum who aren’t needed for the discussion longer than required.

What can be done to help

Teams can use a couple of tools and practices to alleviate the pains caused by the issues above. A working agreement can help stop interruptions while keeping team members psychologically safe. A parking lot helps keep things on track without missing out on valuable conversations.

Working Agreement

When interruptions, talking over people, and ignoring are significant problems, a working agreement can be leveraged. A working agreement is a shared agreement among team members about how they will best work together. A working agreement helps the team feel safe and understood. They can put rules around conversations where not everyone is physically in the room. It may be as simple as agreeing to virtually raise your hand when you would like to speak.  Other examples are: not speaking over one another, showing up to meetings on time, muting your mic when not speaking, etcetera. These rules need to be agreed upon by the entire team, and the team itself needs to come up with them. This can be a tough conversation to lead as a Scrum Master. Here are some facilitation techniques that may come in handy.

The Parking Lot

If you find that the team is missing out on participating due to conversations running long, you can implement a parking lot. A parking lot is relatively simple. When having a daily scrum, you add an additional period dedicated to extended conversations. During the 15 minutes of the daily scrum, the team ensures everyone has a chance to hear their voice. Any discussions that seem to be running long are deemed parking lot items. Those conversations then pause and are held until the parking lot portion. Once you reach the parking lot, any team member who is not needed for the discussion is free to head out and work on other things. Only those relevant to the conversation need to stay around.

These are not all the possible ways to alleviate the problems a team may be having. But they are fantastic to have in your Scrum Master toolbelt. For additional online facilitation tools, look no further. Click here for more:

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The internet and social media are full of Agile, Scrum, Product Management, and DevOps jargon, including incorrect and misunderstood concepts. This could be problematic for a learner seeking knowledge. Without a course with Scrum Alliance,, or DevOps Institute, this knowledge is difficult to achieve.

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