Hi everyone and welcome to our Scrum focused series of articles, where we share our experience of implementing Agile practices in various organisations.
This article will discuss a different way of doing Daily Scrum - walking the board. You can use it with a co-located team or remote team as well.
Walking the board is a fantastic format for Daily Scrum if you want to make sure the team focuses on the most critical stories and their parts first.
I like to combine two approaches during a Sprint. Usually, I switch the standard three questions format of Daily Scrum to walking the board slightly after the Sprint's midpoint if the team is not entirely sure we are going to complete everything in the Sprint. In this way, we can ensure we are focusing on the highest priority items first.
So what is walking the board?
In our previous video of Daily Scrum with the remote team, the focus was on team members answer the three questions:
- What did I do yesterday that helped the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal?
- What will I do today to help the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal?
- Do I have any impediment that prevents the Development Team or me from achieving the Sprint Goal?
This will enhance team communication, create focus and improve self-management.
In walking the board format, we are going to focus on cards (stories). We assume that your Sprint backlog is ordered by priority from top to bottom, and in that case, your team started to work on the story at the top of the board first as it is the highest priority story for the Sprint.
If this is not true, perhaps a discussion with the team on the importance of priority could improve that.
But if this is how you work, your “walking the board will start from the top right part of your board.
If you ask why from the top-right? What is on top is the most valuable story agreed by the Scrum team during the planning session so our focus should be on those stories. Also, most likely stories on the top of the board, are closest to being finished. Once finished, this may then be used by your customer and result in delivering value for both customer and the team.
Each story that is on the board is typically broken down into smaller parts - tasks. These smaller parts allow the story to be worked on by more than one person and provide a plan for completing the story. Usually, a member of the scrum team will facilitate the session (often the Scrum Master). Each task that is being worked on has been selected by a team member, and they assign their name (ar picture, or an avatar ...) to the task. The facilitator asks the assigned person to explain what was done on the card yesterday, what needs to be done today to move it to do, and any potential obstacle to finishing the task. The facilitator then moves to the next card to the left of the current one until all tickets on a story in progress or about to be worked on have been discussed. The facilitator then moves down to the next story again starting on the far right of the board.
As with any daily scrum, potential discussion points should be moderated. Yes, we are asking questions, but we are after short answers for each ticket.
But what if a ticket requires more discussion? Remember, the daily scrum is not the right place to have an extended debate, but it also is not a discussion killer. You have to consider that not all discussions require the entire team to be present. Other team members may instead go and do some work rather than stand around and listen to other team members if the point debate is not relevant to what they are doing. So a simple solution for that is to have a more extended debate right after the daily scrum. You already have the team available, so why not to use it. We usually use a parking lot (special place on the board) to remember all the discussion points raised during the session. Please, watch our video on how to use the parking lot during the daily scrum to capture and prioritise discussion points after Daily scrum.
We will progress from the top right to bottom left and discuss progress on each card on the board during the session. Well, maybe not each card as we are not working on all stories at the same time. We don’t have to talk about stories we are not working on at that particular time unless there is a specific need.
By walking the board, you are touching every story on the board you need to discuss, and hopefully, all team members have a clear plan for the day and understanding of what the team achieved yesterday.
As I mentioned before, I like to switch to walking the board sometimes after the middle of the Sprint. This gives a team a little bit of a different look at where we are with our effort during the Sprint and identifies stories that may be at risk of not being finished during the Sprint. If we have some stories that we are not confident of finishing during the Sprint, we will have an appropriate discussion with our Product Owner if necessary.
So this is our way to do a daily stand scrum in a little bit different way. It does work for our teams, but it is not the only way to run it. This is also working really well with the remote team and online Scrum board tools. We would be happy to hear about your experience. Also, let us know what other topics you would like us to discuss.