The Rhythm of the Daily Scrum

“Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.” – Robert C. Gallagher

I recently accepted a position as software developer at an exciting company here in Tulsa. The choice was difficult and breaking this kind of news to people gives me heartburn. This discomfort was made worse because I had all of the Thanksgiving break to think over how to tell folks at work that I was leaving.

When the day came, I struggled with how I would inform my team that I would be leaving. Do I call a special meeting so everybody hears at once? Do I coax them out for lunch and give the news then? Do I catch them at different times individually? In the midst of this awkwardness, things became crystal clear during the daily scrum that morning.

When it came time for my turn, I recounted what I did the day before, what I planned to do that day and then raised an impediment — I wouldn’t be here past Friday. Unfortunately, it’s not one that the team can remove. It will simply have to continue inspecting and adapting to a changing environment.

It struck me as appropriate since the Daily Scrum is the place for things like this to get discussed. As we work, things happen that the team needs to know about in order to adapt such that they continue to deliver working software consistently. Additionally, it just “felt” right almost like instinct to bring it up then. It took me a bit to realize why I would make such a quick, reflexive decision in the literal space of 30 seconds when I had been deliberating all weekend. Then it hit me — I felt safe. I felt safe to tell the team something difficult, even awkward. It felt acceptable to share something they may not want to hear. The structure of the meeting and the ritual of its practice had established a rhythm of trusted dialogue.

The purpose of the Daily Scrum is for the team to synchronize its efforts and form a plan for the next 24 hours, but the effect it has may not be as straightforward. If done right, this kind of practice builds a kind of muscle memory into a team. Individuals need no longer worry and fret about when to deal with problems; simply bring it up in the Daily Scrum. They need no longer wring their hands when confronted with individual shortcomings; the team will determine a solution. They need not agonize over crucial conversations because we have them every day, and it’s no big deal.


Jason is a developer, Scrum Master, writer, teacher, coach, husband, father, and community leader out of Tulsa Oklahoma. He's been delivering software since 2007 and absolutely loves the values and principles of agility especially as given form by the Scrum framework.