Using the Daily Scrum Questions

The daily Scrum, often referred to as “stand-up,” is one of the four meetings that frame a sprint in the Scrum process and the only meeting that happens every day. Scrum teams in software development meet every morning of the work week in a pre-defined location in the office to hold the daily Scrum, which Agile coaching guru Lyssa Adkins refers to as a “commitment meeting” rather than a progress meeting. When the team meets, they stand in a circle (so they don’t get too comfortable) and each person answers three questions:

  • What have I done since we last met to meet our shared goals?
  • What will I do today to meet our shared goals?
  • What might I be stuck on or need help with?

As each person answers these questions, the other members of the team simply listen without commenting. The goal of the meeting is make sure everyone is on the same page, committed to shared goals, and willing to ask for and offer help to team members. This transparency makes it easier to build team spirit around shared progress as well as to catch problems early so they can be addressed immediately.

Agile Faculty can use the daily Scrum questions in a variety of ways, and I’ll briefly discuss two here.

For Research and Service: For my research, and sometimes for service responsibilities, I use these questions occasionally, maybe once a week or so, just to do a pulse check for myself. Am I progressing toward my goals? Do I need help with something? Are the goals I’m working toward still my most important goals? This allows me to recenter myself and adjust as necessary. You can also use this with a writing group, lab group, service committee, or department to make sure everyone is working toward forward progress.

For Teaching: When you have students working on a group project, having them do a daily Scrum in class and their outside meetings is a good way to hold students accountable to each other, and the transparency built through answering the three questions allows them to see both progress and problems to be addressed.

Another way I’ve just started using a modified version of the daily Scrum questions is as a freewriting exercise at the beginning of a class period. In the style of a five-minute write, I ask students to answer the following variation on the questions before we begin a class discussion:

  • What have I learned since we last met?
  • What would I like to learn more about today?
  • What questions or concerns do I have going into today’s class?

This activity can prime students for the work we’ll do that day and helps them come up with questions they can ask in class. I’m hoping this might be a good approach for the quieter students in class, giving them the opportunity to jot some thoughts down first rather than being on the spot later.

How might you use the daily Scrum questions in your work?

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