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Daily Scrum for continuous improvement

The other day I was in the expert panel at the Scrum Day Europe.

One of the questions from the audience was

If you could only choose one Scrum event, what would you consider the most important event?

People in the expert panel ofcourse disagreed to have a interesting discussion. Ken Schwaber said the Retrospective is probably the most important event because improvement is key in Scrum, others said the Sprint Review is the most important one and so on. I was left with the Daily Scrum and argued that the Daily Scrum is probably the most important event in Scrum. Let me tell you why I think so.

The Daily Scrum is used by the team to determine the plan for the day. If there is a problem or impediment reported during the Daily Scrum all the problem related data is right there, it is at most half a day old! The understanding of the data is still easy, the problem is still small and can therefore be handled easier and there is still a chance that a counter measure helps you in the current sprint.

The Retrospective gives the team time to reflect on the past sprint(s), work on team building and improve what and how it develops. The team comes up with better ways of doing things, defines experiments to try out the next sprint and utilizes it collective problem solving intellect. A disadvantage of the Retrospective in comparison with the Daily Scrum is that it takes place at the end of the Sprint. And that could be too late! The longer you wait to handle a problem the harder it is to come up with good solutions. You loose context while time goes by.

You can better deal with a problem while the problem trail is still hot! The longer you wait the more time you spend in the retrospective establishing a common understanding of what happened or ‘Gathering Data’ as it is called in the retrospective circles. Most teams don’t even gather any data as they start their retrospectives right away with “what went wrong and what went right” questions… and that is a serious problem!

So next to having a big PDCA cycle every sprint, I like to also have multiple smaller PDCA cycles during a sprint which gives a better continuous improvement. The Daily Scrum makes having the small PDCA cycles possible. And that’s why I think the Daily Scrum is the most important event.

I would have chosen another if I had first pick in the panel discussion 🙂

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