Daily Plan: Stand up to Plan the Day

“Stand up please”. Old habits die hard and because I started Agile with Extreme Programming I “Stand up”, I don’t “Scrum”. Otherwise the two types of meeting are pretty similar. “What have you done since we last met? What will you do before we meet again? Any impediments?”

Great meeting. Wrong questions.

As Mike Cohn explained back in 2006, and Matt Wynne reminded me last year, the daily meeting is a Planning session. It is part of Mike’s planning onion because the aim of the “Stand up” is to develop the plan for the day.

Planning Onion

I adopted Kanban a few years ago and with that change comes a change of focus at the daily meeting. Kanban is about getting items through a pipeline, and for me that is about getting software live. So the focus of my “Stand up” is now what we have to do today to get something live, or at least closer to live.

The daily “Stand up” should produce a plan of action for the day. Who is going to pick up which work? Who is going to work with who to get things moving? Who is going to resolve which blocker?

The only question I still like of the conventional three is “Any impediments?” although I now tend to ask “Any blockers?” instead. I prefer “Blockers” because work is either blocked or it isn’t. The team can do productive work on the item or they can’t. Flagging up a blocker is an invitation to the rest of the team to swarm on the issue to unblock it and get the item that much closer to live.

The trouble with the other two questions conventionally asked at the daily “Scrum” is that they don’t directly help get software live.

“What will you do before we meet again?” – Superficially looks okay. But that assumes what the person is intending to do is aligned with getting something live. Hopefully that is the case but often it isn’t. For example, “I’ve got some meetings with HR to discuss recruitment policy” might be accurate as a response to the question but doesn’t help me ship product. I’m just not interested. Okay, if the person was going to be in meetings with HR all week I would be interested but only because it is blocking progress.

“What have you done since we last met?” – Not interesting at all. This is pure status reporting and I don’t actually need it. I know what they’ve done because I can see the board; the board, assuming it is up to date, is enough for effective monitoring and control.

References

Cohn, M. (2006). Agile Estimating and Planning. Prentice Hall.

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