Techniques for improving the daily sync
What is the daily sync about?
For Martin Fowler the “Daily stand-up meetings have become a ritual of many agile teams, especially in Agile Software development”. In the article titled “Is Not Just Standing Up”, Martin refers to it, as the time when “The whole agile team meets every day for a quick status update. We stand up to keep the meeting short”.
When is the daily sync held?
It really depends on of the team. In my experience, most agile teams hold it daily at the beginning of the work day and it’s up to them to decide where and at what time.
What’s the goal of the daily sync?
There are several goals for a daily sync meeting. In my opinion, if the agile team is able to answer the question “Where are we in the iteration?” with a couple of phrases, then that’s a sign that everybody is on the same page, which for me is the main goal of the meeting. This meeting provides visibility on potential delays and obstacles for the agile team. Martin Fowler has identified five (5) goals for a daily sync meeting as GIFTS, a mnemonic device to facilitate daily sync meeting goals learning:
Who participates in the daily sync and how?
A daily sync meeting is a short meeting, which occurred daily (it’s recommend that it takes less than (15) minutes) where the development team meets to:
What techniques could be used to get the best out of daily sync?
- Cheers the team up. Motivated people are opened to learn, that leads to creativity and innovation. So be up for it and cheers them up, but pay attention and please be real. Feel it, so then you can inspire them to feel it too.
- Communicate. Daily syncs are all about communicating what’s going on within the agile team, specifically regarding the iteration and its progression. I like to encourage the agile team to talk, be opening the space for them to do it.
- How to do it? Focus on the container, not in the content. Invite them to fill the place with their comments by sharing their ideas. I always look for inspiration and what motivates them to share. Some people are visual, others prefer to sense it and others like to hear about it. Observe and be curious about their interest and focus on creating the safest environment possible and you’ll see them flourish.
- Raise impediments that could impact the agile team to reach the iteration goal. To be honest, create the habit to raise impediments with agile teams is hard. People react to it, and I think it’s because it could be perceived from others, like if you aren’t capable to get things done. Believe me, I’ve different approaches, different ways and there is not a common practice that I could share with you. However, I like to explain to them that raising impediments is our only way to get things done by collaborating with the rest of the organization.
- How to do it? During the first meetings, I ask them at the end of the meeting: What are the team’s road blockers today regarding the iteration?
- Suggested attitude. By the end of the daily sync meeting, I like to show up my curiosity by asking some powerful questions regarding the iteration to the agile team, for example: Where are we in the iteration? (Ahead, on or off track) What about the iteration goal? Where we are with it? (Off or on track)? Is there anything blocking the agile team path to reach the iteration goal? I strongly recommend you to observe people’s attitudes when you ask questions. Look for patterns, non-verbal communication, and receptiveness. Stay open for suggestions and make your intentions clear by sharing why are you asking all this questions. I would also say, be patient and keep it short you too.
- Start the day. Start the day fresh, so let’s stand up and have a talk with agile teammates, is an amazing way to get organized for the challenges that will come. It helps the agile team to get used to plan ahead and sets sharing and collaboration, as the way to go when working with the team.
- How to do it? I like to show up at the precise time that the agile team agreed the daily sync would happen. I don’t say a word; I just stand there in the middle of the war room. Then I wait until someone stand up, and then the rest will follow. I repeat this for a couple of weeks until the agile team get the habit and do it by themselves.
- Recommended attitude. I strongly recommend you to be ready to act. Get breakfast early so then your body sparks enough energy to contaminate the room. Be there and challenge them to engage in one of the most important conversations of the day. Please smile, remember is free!
- Support improvement. Invite the agile team to guide their destiny and own the space, by answering to the question: what else we can do to help him excel the daily sync meeting? Be there for them to support their work and make him/her be a leader for the team. I love to see it this way: More help accepted => more trust established => higher collaboration=> incredible results.
- Let it go and observe how it goes. After the 5th week since the agile team has started having daily sync meetings, and only for testing purposes, I like to absent myself from those meetings, so then the team can figure it out by themselves. Then, I ask the Product Owner, do you know where we are in the iteration? Do you need anything from me or from the team? And then I’ll rely on those answers to build from it and continue helping the agile team to improve.
And last but not least, please repeat, repeat and repeat. I’ve learned by practising over and over again, people get used to do things and ends by incorporate those practices as part of their own lives.
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