Agile is like the game of golf: easy to understand, but difficult to master.
For classically trained project managers, leading an Agile team can be confusing, intimidating, and contains pitfalls that a PM may never see. But those pitfalls can stifle an otherwise promising Agile team and jeopardize the product.
Typically, the first Agile ceremony adopted by teams “doing Agile” is the daily standup (a.k.a. the ‘daily scrum’). The “official” process guidelines for a standup are:
- Occurs every day
- Occurs at the same time
- Time-boxed to 15 minutes (or less)
- Anyone can attend
- It’s not a status meeting
- Only team members (those building the product) are allowed to speak
- Each team member answers three questions:
- What did you do since the last standup?
- What will you do before the next standup?
- What impediments to progress are blocking you?
That’s essentially it. It’s a framework, within which teams will self-norm. They will find ways to conduct the standup that work for them, given their circumstances and who they are. My colleague, Alex Foucre-Stimes, has a nice blog showing his team’s example here.
Some examples of self-norming can include:
- Who speaks when (take turns by a random metric, pass around a speaking totem, rotate up to the front to speak…)
- What is used to record outcomes (physical task board, digital task board, Application Lifecycle Management tool…)
- When the standup is held (beginning of the day, end of the day, just before lunch, 2:37pm…)
- Where the standup is held (meeting room, open space, at the team lead’s cubicle, online video, conference call…)
Here are some potential pitfalls that Agile team leads (a.k.a. ‘scrum masters’ or SMs) and teams can fall into, and how to recognize and avoid them:
|The “Glass Silo”||Team members report up and out of their “glass silos” to the SM instead of communicating with each other||
|The “Deep Dive” standup||Lasts much longer than the 15 minute time box.
(I have seen standups go 90 minutes.)
|The Academic 3rd Question||The “impediments” question stops providing value||
These are just a few standup pitfalls. What other ones have you experienced, and how did you address them? I welcome your comments.