The benefits of the Daily Scrum part 1: Building Trust

The daily scrum is one of the most recognized parts of the scrum framework. Even for non-scrum teams, it is a simple practice that can bring a lot of benefit to a project.

There are lots of great things that an effective, quick daily scrum does for teams and individuals. Some of these are obvious, like:

  • Keeping the team in sync on how things are going
  • Providing an opportunity for small course corrections within the sprint

Some of the benefits are less obvious, but are every but as valuable:

  • Building trust between team members
  • Encouraging personal planning

I’ll cover the building trust portion after the break, and other benefits in coming posts.

Probably the most important rule for building relationships of trust, whether the relationship is personal or with a co-worker or manager/stakeholder, is to follow this simple pattern:

  1. Say what you’re going to do
  2. Do what you said you were going to do
  3. Report that you did it
  4. Repeat

Let’s look at an example of a daily scrum report to see how the meeting helps encourage this pattern:

Sally’s team is in their first week of their sprint. On Wednesday morning, Sally gives the following report at her team’s daily scrum meeting:

“Yesterday Sandeep and I finished the design of the new clip import dialog. We sent this out for peer review, so please provide any feedback on it ASAP, as I’m going to start coding it today.

My goal for today is to get the basic window in with the first control, the clip selector, built and hooked up to the backend. If everything goes well, I’ll have that checked in this afternoon, so QE should expect to see it in the afternoon build, or tomorrow morning’s build at the latest. My only impediment is that I forgot to check with Tobias to make sure the backend is ready to provide the clip locations, so Tobias, let’s get together after the daily scrum and make sure we’re all set”.

Notice how the format of the daily scrum has led to Sally using the pattern for building trust. She has stated what she will do, been transparent about who can expect what, and was honest about a potential risk, even though she had helped cause the risk. Now let’s fast forward to Thursday morning for Sally’s next daily scrum meeting.

“Yesterday I was able to get the Clip Selector dialog started. Tobias and I got the frontend and backend talking to eachother after a few false starts, and the new window is in this morning’s build. QE should be able to launch the window from the project panel and they should see all of the clips in the currently open project and be able to browse other projects for their clips.

Today I’m going to add the filtering control, and in the design review Erica pointed out that we should probably use a radio control instead of a dropdown for the clip type options since there are only two clip types right now, so I’ll get that working today and then I’ve got a couple of bugs to fix. No impediments today, I should be able to get through these tasks with no problem”. 

Sally has now closed the loop on the building trust pattern – she did what she said she would do, and then reported that she had done it. Over time, the daily scrum leads team members to repeatedly follow this pattern and be transparent and honest about risks, issues, and failures, leading to tremendous trust within the team.

5 Responses to The benefits of the Daily Scrum part 1: Building Trust

  1. Kat Green says:

    Thanks for posting this to Facebook, Peter. One of our teams at Microsoft has been scheduling a daily scrum, and I didn’t understand exactly what it entailed. This simple protocol transcends software development, and I plan to implement it in my new role.

  2. Franco says:

    Building trust inside an Agile team is important, but I think that this is greatly influenced by how “honesty” is valued in the company. It could be hard for a developer to mention that she/he is facing some issues if he fears that this could negatively impact is yearly evaluation.

    • Peter Green says:

      Great point. This would be a situation for a scrum master to be keenly aware.

  3. Rakesh Sivan says:

    Thanks for the well written write up. I have worked with some 2-3 SCRUM based projects. From my experience, SCRUM projects loose their charm in the long run, due to tight schedules, unclear requirements, and failure of individual to appear for the meeting. Its a bunch of good principles, but seldom gives the maximum throughput.

    • Peter Green says:

      Hi Rakesh,
      Scrum is no silver bullet. If applied well, scrum should expose issues like poor requirements much earlier than traditional methods. That doesn’t mean the team will do anything to fix those problems. Scrum provides transparency but it requires courage to do something about the issues that are exposed. In an earlier post, I talked about the heart of agile. Doing scrum without addressing the issues it exposes is using the scrum tactics without the heart of agile.