Switching it up: A Snapshot of the Agile Framework Made Playful
We asked Frank, our colleague and resident Agile enthusiast, to guide us through a typical Daily Standup under Agile.
Studies have shown that monotony, coupled with high levels of alertness, can exacerbate stress in the workplace. (Thackray, 1981) Agile is a great tool. But there’s no denying that in its everyday application, it can start to feel monotonous. What are some ways you can avoid monotony in one Agile practice, the Daily Standup? Why would it benefit you to do so?
We asked Frank, Agile enthusiast and Scrum Master, to guide us through a typical Daily Standup.
The Daily Standup
Every morning starts the same. The Agile Pod comes together for the Daily Standup.
Three (3) questions are asked to each Team Member:
1) What did you work on yesterday?
2) What will you work on today?
3) Any Blockers?
The same three (3) questions are repeated to each team member within a fifteen-minute window.
“As you can imagine, this can get pretty monotonous,” says Frank. “When I am starting my morning, it is already early evening for our offshore teammates, and you can ‘hear the eagerness’ to get the call over with.”
Switching it up
“So, some mornings I like to change things up,” said Frank. “For the sanity of the team,” he says with a chuckle, although the sense is that it may be for his own as well.
Then, to the team’s amusement, Frank calls on team members in the reverse order than he usually does. Starting at the bottom of the Scrum Board rather than the top.
And if he wants to get really “crazy,” he replaces the word ‘Blocker’ in the third question with:
“Hindrances? Problems? Issues? People not getting back to you?”
Joking aside, this subtle change enables Frank to get more refined responses from his team. “Switching it up” breaks the monotony of the daily meeting (which sometimes recurs for years), which in turn helps everyone uncover any blockers. If Frank better understands their Blockers, he’s more likely to be able to remediate them and move the project forward.
Through his use of humor, Frank is mindful about earning the trust and goodwill that his team feels towards him.
Even though micromanaging is technically built into the Agile Framework, he allows the team to be creative, to bring their unique experiences and ideas to the table. I.e., he encourages them to not be monotonous. The reason being, if top contributors feel fulfilled and respect him, they’re more likely to want him as the Scrum Master for their next project.
“And a little bit of humor and levity early in the morning never hurt anyone!”
Written by Olympe Scherer, Business Development Manager at Arrayo