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Scrum: Ensuring the Daily Scrum meeting does not become a casual chat kind of meeting

This is one of the problems that I have seen people discussing after teams have been implementing Scrum for some time, and have started getting casual about it. The Daily Scrum meeting is a meeting occurring on a daily basis where the team gets together for a brief period of time (most teams try to ensure that the meeting gets done within 15 minutes), and the team provides an update to each other on the following:
– What each member of the team has done in the past day since the previous such meeting
– What each member of the team will be doing in the current day, till the next such meeting
– Are there any impediments that may be blocking the team from proceeding (and in most cases, if these are impediments that still open and where additional help from the Scrum Master or other people is required.

Over a period of time, what we find is that even if team members were cynical about the Daily Scrum meeting, and its effectiveness, the majority of scrum teams realize the benefit they get from a quick update from their team members on current status of tasks and ensure that they are present for such a meeting; and in some cases, they do not even need the presence of a Scrum Master to be there in the Daily Scrum meeting.
However, in a small number of cases, either because the team is over-confident or they have started taking the daily scrum lightly, the team no longer feels that there is a need for a disciplined meeting. When I say disciplined, I mean a meeting where there is a meeting room with a specific team, and the expectation is that the team will be there on a daily basis for that meeting. However, when people take it lightly, you will find cases where the team no longer has that discipline about ensuring that they do it formally. Instead, when there is a 5 or 6 member team, they will do some casual conversation across in the pantry room or some other place where they can have a coffee break and claim that they have discussed all that needs to be discussed and the meeting is done. And in a few of these cases, there is the rationalization that it is the update to each other that is important and not that the meeting needs to be held in a meeting room.
However, this kind of situation becomes tricky. Such an attitude can quickly spread to other team members, and you will find team members not being present for the Daily Scrum on an odd day, or the meeting becomes more a chat place rather than a serious and professional quick discussion. What does this eventually lead to ? You will find that the team still wants to treat the Daily Scrum as a meeting that happens, but is now more of a meeting that is an informal discussion between the Scrum team members; and the productivity increase that you would expect would happen because of such a meeting is no longer happening; or the productivity or efficiency in the team is not happening. It is the Scrum Master who needs to do the discussion with the team members to ensure that this kind of situation does not happen.

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