Breaking the routine in Daily Scrum meetings

We are entering our 21st Sprint as a team tomorrow. 21 2-week Sprints that we all meet everyday at 11:00AM in the project room. We’re a bunch of dudes working on the back-end systems of our websites: caching, framework, performance etc. 5 PHP developers, 1 QA, 3 contractors, 2 SysAdmins, 2 DB developers, 1 Product Owner and a Scrum Master. That’s a whole 14 people, quite a few if you ask me…

 funny pictures of cats with captions

Problem description

Since I joined the team, I have always found our Daily Scrum meetings a little, well, boring. I have tried shaking things up a little but without success so far. However recently I had the feeling people come to the room because they must and not because they want to, entering the room as if they were going to be beaten up to death. As a result the actual communication is of no value whatsoever to anyone. That annoys the heck out of me and I don’t seem to know what I could do…

Work environment analysis

Here is a sumary of the team’s work environment, this should give some clues already on the root cause.

* We have several projects running at the same time – team members are usually split between these projects.
* Some team members are not fully dedicated to the team (they are shared with other teams).
* The backlog is managed virtually, same with the various Burndowns.
* Lack of meeting rooms generally make it hard to split things up.
* Lots of pressure and high priority work going on: we can’t take the time to talk about things!

Generally I think some guys don’t want to go into details because they either dont want to hold off others or actually think that others don’t care about what they are doing because they are focusing on other things. 14 people…

All that ain’t fun!

What can I do, as a Scrum Master, to sort things out?

I have to be creative to sort these problems while staying within the framework provided by the company. Here is a list of things, in no particular order, which come to my mind as I write this piece:

* Organize the Daily Scrum in projects: start with project A, the with project B etc. The expected result is more coherence in the communication flow instead of jumping from one project to the other.
* Do 1 Scrum per project instead of 1 big mammoth Scrum – split the team into smaller groups while keeping the lead developer in all these.
* Have a physical product backlog and burndowns in the project room in addition to the virtual one (thanks Dan).
* Change the time and location of the Daily Scrum meeting.
* Do one session to remind everyone of the purpose of these daily meetings.
* Work closer with management and stress again the importance of not working on several projects simultaneously.

That’s all that comes to my mind for now… Next step is do a thorough cost/benefit analysis and work together with the team to find a solution that everybody is committed to.

What would you do to break the routine in Daily Scrum meetings and make things fun for everybody? Have you ever experienced a similar scenario?

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