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Daily Scrum is used to … PLAN!

By Miranda Dulin
Published in Agile Approaches
April 06, 2024
7 min read
Daily Scrum is used to … PLAN!

Choosing a status meeting over Daily Scrum is like using sandpaper when toilet paper is needed. Effective? Barely. Comfortable? Hardly.

Daily Scrum Is Used To …

The Daily Scrum is a brief, 15-minute touchpoint for development teams to synchronize activities and create a plan for the next 24 hours, focusing on progress towards the Sprint Goal. But beware, its efficacy wanes when it veers into mere status reporting.

The Status Meeting Antipattern

The status meeting antipattern converts the Daily Scrum from a focused strategy session into a general status report meeting. Ideally, the event should streamline efforts and clarify objectives. When executed as designed, it is efficient and suitable without causing unnecessary harm (much like toilet paper).

Woman failing to wipe poop off a counter top and smearing instead.

When this meeting shifts from its original goal of collaboration and planning to merely reporting status, it becomes akin to using sandpaper instead of toilet paper. This shift not only causes discomfort but also strays from the intended purpose, leading to inefficiency and potentially harming the team’s dynamic. This antipattern typically arises from external pressures or misunderstandings of Scrum.

It would help if you emphasized the importance of maintaining the integrity and purpose of the Daily Scrum to ensure it remains a productive and valuable part of your team’s process.

Transformational Patterns to Fix Your Daily Scrum

Most antipatterns stem from embracing misconceptions or resigning to problematic situations when solutions seem elusive. Breaking free from these patterns often necessitates a shift in mindset.

Transformational Patterns for teams moving from a status meeting to a proper Daily Scrum:

  • From churning, swirling, and exceeding the timebox to plan claritys
  • From attendance avoidance to engaged participation
  • From a focus on “me” to a focus on “we”
  • From micromanagement or perceived surveillance to psychological safety

Recognizing the Daily Scrum Antipattern

An antipattern is a typical yet ineffective response to a recurring problem, often not immediately recognizable as harmful. Teams adopt them, believing they are logical solutions. However, discerning an antipattern’s true nature requires awareness, as it’s easy to adopt one unknowingly. Below are six signs to help you identify if you’ve fallen victim to a specific antipattern.

1. Disengagement

Merely rehashing status updates during what should be a Daily Scrum leads to disinterest among team members. This disinterest is because such updates often fail to add meaningful value or engage the team in productive dialogue, making the session tedious instead of energizing.

meeting where all attendees are asleep
Status meeting or group nap time? You decide.

2. Timebox Exceeded

Beyond the tendency of status updates to lengthen the Daily Scrum, there’s an additional pitfall: teams often attempt to cram necessary collaborative discussions into the remaining time after these updates. This rushed effort to cover critical planning and problem-solving discussions, which are essential yet sidelined, further exacerbates the issue, making the meeting exceed its intended duration. This condensed available time for productive discussions detracts from the meeting’s efficiency and undermines its core purpose of fostering focused, productive teamwork within a concise timeframe.

3. Unresolved Impediments

Focusing on status rather than obstacle removal during Daily Scrums leads to fewer discussed and resolved impediments. This lack of risk mitigation can leave the team struggling with avoidable challenges, hampering progress towards their goals.

4. Meeting Fatigue

Ineffective Daily Scrums that don’t achieve their objectives can necessitate additional meetings to address unresolved issues. These additional meetings increase workload and contribute to meeting fatigue, as team members spend more time in meetings than on actual work.

5. Reduced Transparency

When Daily Scrums become status reports, we spend less time discussing the details of everyone’s work and their challenges. This reduction in openness and sharing diminishes the team’s ability to understand and support each other’s work, impacting overall transparency.

6. Stifled Innovation

The emphasis on status reporting in place of a true Daily Scrum stifles sharing new ideas or creative solutions. This environment discourages innovation by focusing on what you’ve done rather than exploring potential improvements or novel approaches to problems.

sad dead plant
A moment of silence for the ideas that didn’t survive the status update.

If you’re looking at your overall process at this point and essentially realizing that you’ve unknowingly been wiping with sandpaper, fret not. I’ve designed the following four principles to help you shift from a status-reporting mindset to a collaborative planning mindset.

Four Guiding Principles for Effective Daily Scrum

1. Plan Clarity

This principle emphasizes the importance of focusing on forward-looking planning over backward-looking status reporting. Shifting the mindset from merely recounting what you’ve done to strategizing about future actions ensures that the Daily Scrum serves as a catalyst for progress rather than a procedural check-in.

2. Engaged Participation

Engaged participation underlines the shift from viewing participation in the Daily Scrum as a mandatory task to seeing it as a valuable opportunity to contribute to the team’s success. This mindset encourages active involvement and communication, making each session a moment to offer insights and solutions rather than fulfilling an attendance requirement.

3. We Focused

Pile of hands in a huddle
'We' because 'me' never won a tug-of-war.

This principle promotes a team-oriented perspective, focusing on collective goals and achievements rather than individual contributions. By shifting from a “me” to a “we” mindset, team members prioritize shared objectives and collaboration, fostering a more vital, more unified team dynamic that drives mutual success.

4. Psychological Safety

Psychological safety emphasizes creating an environment where team members feel safe sharing ideas, raising concerns, and admitting mistakes without fear of blame or retribution. Adopting a support-versus-blame mindset encourages open dialogue and trust, allowing for more innovative solutions and a resilient team capable of overcoming obstacles together.

3 Ways to Improve Plan Clarity

To improve plan clarity in their Daily Scrum meetings, teams can adopt the following practices:

1. Incorporate New Information

Allocate time to discuss any new information that has emerged since the last meeting. New information can range from learning about external dependencies, such as needing assistance from another team, to internal adjustments, like the necessity of acquiring new tools or finding that tasks are more straightforward than anticipated. Recognizing and integrating this fresh insight ensures that plans remain relevant and responsive to current realities.

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2. Assess Sprint Goal Progress

Regularly review how close the team is to achieving the Sprint Goal. This assessment involves evaluating completed work items, identifying gaps, and determining the necessary actions to maintain or realign focus toward the goal. Making these assessments collaborative is crucial, allowing for collective input on strategy adjustments.

3. Clarify the Next 24 Hours

Make sure that at the end of each Daily Scrum, every team member clearly understands their work for the coming day. This knowledge includes what each developer needs to complete and how each product backlog item contributes to the Sprint Goal. This step is vital for maintaining momentum and ensuring everyone is aligned and moving in the same direction.

3 Ways to Improve Engaged Participation

To foster more engaged participation in their Daily Scrum meetings, teams can implement these strategies:

1. Monitor Work Item Age

Regularly review the age of each work item to identify Product Backlog Items that may be stalled or taking longer than anticipated. This analysis can prompt team members to volunteer assistance, creating a proactive support culture.

2. Encourage Seeking Help

Cultivate an environment where team members feel comfortable asking for help when they encounter obstacles. Stress the importance of transparency over self-reliance, reinforcing that seeking assistance is a strength, not a weakness. This approach not only accelerates problem-solving but also deepens trust among team members.

3. Prompt Impediment Escalation

Ensure that any impediments to progress are communicated and escalated without delay. Seeing impediments taken seriously and addressed effectively can significantly enhance team members’ willingness to share challenges early on. This proactive behavior contributes to a more dynamic and responsive team environment, where we swiftly remove obstacles and prioritize collaboration.

IT guy indecisively watching a mass of wires smoke
The only thing burning faster than these wires is our chance to address impediments

3 Ways to Shift to “We” Focus

To enhance the “we focus” in their Daily Scrum meetings and ensure a more team-oriented approach, teams can take these corrective actions:

1. Direct Communication Towards the Team

Change the focus of communication to address the entire development team rather than directing questions and updates to the Scrum Master or management alone. This approach encourages viewing tasks and challenges through a collective lens, promoting teamwork and collaborative problem-solving over highlighting individual accomplishments.

2. Reevaluate the Use of the Three Questions

While the traditional three questions from the Scrum Guide (What did I complete yesterday? What will I work on today? Are there any impediments in my way?) aim to structure the Daily Scrum, they might inadvertently emphasize individual contributions. Teams can explore other formats that foster discussions about collective efforts and shared goals, reducing the spotlight on singular achievements.

3. Implement “Walk the Board” Technique

Transition to a ”walk the board” method during the Daily Scrum, where the team reviews the Scrum board together to assess progress towards tasks and the Sprint Goal. This practice shifts the focus from what each person is doing to how the team as a whole is moving work forward to the “done” status. It emphasizes collective success and accountability, reinforcing the notion that everyone’s efforts contribute to achieving the team’s objectives.

3 Ways to Improve Psychological Safety

To enhance psychological safety within their Daily Scrum meetings and foster a supportive team environment, teams can adopt these practices:

1. Promote Skill Improvement Over Fault-Finding

Encourage team members to support one another’s growth by offering assistance and sharing knowledge rather than pointing out mistakes or weaknesses. This approach helps to build a culture of learning and mutual assistance, ensuring that everyone feels valued and supported in their efforts to contribute effectively to the team.

Helping hand reaching out supportively
Remember, pointing fingers usually doesn’t leave a hand free to help.

2. Address Systemic Issues, Not Individuals

When challenges occur, focus on analyzing and refining the processes and systems that underlie the team’s work. By shifting attention away from assigning blame to individuals and towards improving the team’s methodologies and practices, teams can create a more constructive and less judgmental environment.

3. Limit Non-Developer Participation

To maintain a focus on the developers’ needs and perspectives during the Daily Scrum, consider restricting attendance to the development team members primarily. While Product Owners, Scrum Masters, and other stakeholders can attend, their role should be as observers rather than active participants. This limited participation ensures that the meeting remains a safe space for developers to discuss issues, strategize, and collaborate without external pressures or distractions.


In essence, transforming a daily status meeting into an effective Daily Scrum is akin to swapping sandpaper for toilet paper in the context of personal hygiene; it’s about choosing the right tool for the job to avoid unnecessary discomfort and achieve the desired outcome efficiently.

We explored how antipatterns, characterized by disengagement and meeting fatigue, can derail the true purpose of the Daily Scrum, making it a tedious status update rather than a strategic planning session.

To combat this, we introduced corrective actions across four key concepts: Plan Clarity, Engaged Participation, “We” Focus, and Psychological Safety. Recommended actions help to shift the team’s mindset from individual reporting to collaborative progress, ensuring that every member feels supported and we aim contributions towards common goals.

By focusing on these principles, teams can foster a more inclusive, productive environment that accelerates progress and nurtures innovation and collective problem-solving, proving that the right approach can make all the difference.

Works Consulted


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Miranda Dulin

Miranda Dulin

Scrum Master

Table Of Contents

Daily Scrum Is Used To …
The Status Meeting Antipattern
Transformational Patterns to Fix Your Daily Scrum
Recognizing the Daily Scrum Antipattern
Four Guiding Principles for Effective Daily Scrum
3 Ways to Improve Plan Clarity
3 Ways to Improve Engaged Participation
3 Ways to Shift to "We" Focus
3 Ways to Improve Psychological Safety
Works Consulted

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