Can the daily scrum be a waste of time?

Sometimes a team come to the conclusion that the daily scrum (a.k.a. the daily stand-up) is a waste of time. I think the most common reason for this is that the team is not having an effective informative meeting. I've seen a lot of daily scrums turn in to a status report where everybody tries to justify what they've done in the last day and especially bring up all the good things they've done. But that's not what the daily scrum is for. It is to bring up problems and let everybody know what will happen in the next 24 hours. or at least that's what I think is the most important part. You should view the daily scrum as your daily planning meeting.

The other type of team that wants to skip the daily scrum is typically a team sitting together in one room and performing very well with a lot of communication. If the team is doing and communicating well, why waste a few minutes every day in a daily scrum that will not bring up anything not already communicated? Well, as I mentioned before; different teams (and times) call for different measures. I think it is OK for a team that has embraced agile software development so well to stop having daily scrums if the communication is good without it. And with such a mature team it will notice when the daily scrums are needed again.

But be warned; most teams who want to skip the daily scrum wants to do it for the wrong reason. And even if the team has excellent communication and sitting all together, the cost of everybody stand up (no need to even leave the desk) and confirm that there are no big issues that needs to be raised is better than trying to skip them. The potential benefits by far outweighs the cost in my mind. So I would do the safe thing; keep it and just make it really, really short most of the time.

Comments (7)

  1. Tired of Scrum says:

    Scrum just doesn't work, in my opinion. Nice idea, but the reality is it's a totally useless tool created by managers so they have something to manage.

  2. I got a comment here that deserved more than just a comment response. It is an interesting comment and

  3. Anon says:

    There is no point to a 15 minute meeting. Speakers are forced to say something when they have nothing to say, or they are forced to abbreviate when more time is needed. No one listens to anyone else because they're too busy thinking about what they're going to say next.

  4. @Anon: You're describing a very common scenaro where the daily "meeting" becomes a daily status report. The purpose of the daily scrum is not to have a daily scrum. It is to encourage peer to peer communication within the team. A well functioning team that communicates well will not need a daily meeting because they have "meetings" all the time when needed. A daily scrum where people feel forced and/or nobody listens is broken. That does not mean that the tool encouraging people to communicate is broken. It means that the scrum master (or whoever is responsible for driving the process) is not doing a good job IMHO.

  5. Scrum is a waste of time... says:

    at least for small companies who are already understaffed.  Dear God, my boss thinks he's doing something innovative when in fact all he's doing is creating yet another time-sucking, wheel-spinning, pointless session.

  6. Actually the daily stand up is there to simulate what happens in a small company where a handful of people sit together around a table; everybody kind of knows everything. From the description it sounds more like you're having a stand-up (as described above) that is not used to communicate but to report status. And if you're a small company maybe a stand-up is really a waste of time because everybody already knows everything…

    More important; what is your strategy to improve your process?

  7. SW says:

    It usually is a complete waste of time.

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