One of the confusions I notice from time to time is about the daily.
People complaining about dailies taking too long and that it prevents them from doing work. When I hear this, I ask if I can join the daily and observe it.
In almost all cases, I see a non structured daily, were status (what people have done) is mixed with discussions, ask for help etc..
X: But Yves, we need to have these discussions, these are crucial.
Y: Oh I agree. It’s the most valuable part.
X: Oh you mean the status part is not important?
Y: That’s not what I said. For me it’s needed to know what else we need to talk about
X: Now I’m totally confused, you say we need them to know what to talk about, yet when we have both, the standup takes too long.
Y: What I see is that these two types of communications are mixed.
X: Yeah, yet that is natural isn’t it?
Y: Completely agree, it’s natural. And indeed my proposal is very counterintuitive.
X: Say more
Y: What I propose is that when such a discussion starts, anyone states, let’s move this to the after party.
X: To the what?
Y: The after party. Give me a moment to explain. During the standup, team members first share what they have finished yesterday, what they will finish today and where they need help. That usually goes quick. It’s the discussion that take the bulk of the time. For me, this discussion is actually work, it’s the knowledge sharing part of the work. By moving this to an “after party”, we make that distinction much more clear. What is more important, not everyone is interested in all discussions.
X: Are you saying that people can then leave the standup?
Y: Why not?
X: Yeah but you just said that the second part is knowledge sharing and part of the work?
Y: Indeed and I do see that many people feel interested and will participate in most discussions (or question and answer sessions) Yet not everyone will stays in all discussions,…
X: ah, and when these discussions are mixed with the rest, they can’t leave.
X: Could this be a reason for them to feel frustrated and complaining about the length of the standup?
Y: I think it very well might be the top reason.
X: Makes sense.
X: But Yves should we stop all discussions?
Y: Great question. What do you think?
X: I think not, only when it’s takes too long.
Y: Great thinking. How do you know what takes too long?
X: Yeah that would have been my next question, how do I know as a scrummaster when it takes too long?
Y: You don’t.
X: Now I’m puzzled again, how can I then stop the discussions?
Y: There are two answers to that, and you need them both.
X: Sounds like another way to say it depends…
Y: haha, I let you decide on that.
Y: The first answer is you don’t and you don’t need to know.
X: What do you mean?
Y: As a scrummaster you are a servant of the team and you don’t have to rescue them. As I said in the beginning anyone can say let’s move this to the afterparty. You are not the sole responsible for doing this.
X: aha, the treat them like adults general advice for SM.
Y: Indeed, this is an example of that. Good catch.
X: With that I don’t need a second answer right? So what is the trick?
Y: No trick, just that sometimes the team is not yet taking that responsibility and then it’s good to see someone showing them the way.
X: Yeah but how can I show them the way if I don’t know if it’s taking too long or not.
Y: Well the second also starts with you don’t and you don’t need to know.
X:: Eh that is the exact same answer you gave as the first answer.
Y: yep, and now for a different reason. As a scrummaster, you don’t have to be perfect. It’s okay and even desirable to make assumptions and then ask the team.
Sorry to interrupt but I feel that the discussion about why we need to upgrade to the latest version of Java might take a long time, I propose we move that to the after party.
X: haha that is a great example, that is the kind of discussion that can go on forever.
Y: I’m not even sure if it’s such a great example, because this might actually even be better to have a completely separate meeting because this usually impacts much more people then just team members, I wanted to have an example of something that clearly doesn’t belong in the standup. Yet I’m sure that now you know the concept, you will detect these kind of discussions.
X: So what happens when the teams disagrees?
Y: You say, ok let’s continue for another minute or two.
X: and then what?
Y: after two minutes you can ask them, let’s vote:
thumbs up: keep discussing here
thumbs down: let’s move it to the after party
flat hand: I don’t care, I’ll just follow the rest of the team
X: so you again give them the power to decide
Y: Exactly. I do this because this prepares them for the previous answer, them saying let’s move this to the after party.
X: And on top it teaches them how they can decide as a group, when one of them makes a proposition the others disagree with.
Y: Another good catch. Do you have more questions?
X: No this is already a lot of information to grasp. Thanks again Yves
Y: you are welcome
PS a big thank you to Jimmy Janlén for helping me give this idea a name.
I know many people say something like: “let’s talk about it offline,” yet in a remote world like we live today, I prefer the after party. On top, let’s take it offline, also gives the impression the speaker and the person they said it too, will talk privately about it. The after party is the opposite, we’ll talk about it, with anyone who wants.
PPS There is also something like a pre party: I wrote about the pre party here