Scrum: is the daily stand-up flawed?

It occurred to me today after witnessing a particularly poorly-focused stand-up that there could be a flaw in the way that the structure and format is set up.

Sure, we say that each member should update the rest of the team on what they did towards the sprint since the last stand-up and what they are going to do towards the sprint before the next stand-up.

Sure, we say that each member should talk to the team rather than providing a status update to the ScrumMaster as if the ScrumMaster needs to be pleased or appeased.

Sure, we say that any potential sidetracking into technical details should be taken offline.

Great, but somehow, these instructions don’t seem to be enough sometimes.  Time and again, I see team members reeling off lists of things or mumbling vagaries which appear to have little correlation to the user stories on the board.  The team stands inert in front of the board but with a total disconnect between them and it.  All words are directed at the ScrumMaster as they eagerly wait for a nod of approval.  So I have felt compelled to ask: if the team has been told the instructions above, how come it all goes so wrong!?

I get the slight feeling that there could be a flaw in the idea that each team member should talk about themselves in turn – it seems to be a very individualistic approach to something that is so team oriented, which gives rise to individuals talking about stuff which no one else is listening to and has little bearing on the team self-organising to deliver on its commitment.

Instead, I would like to propose a slight nuance.  Instead of each team member talking in turn, we could change the format to: “each user story should talk in turn”.  Looking at the board, the team sees the user stories on the board and perhaps a breakdown of its tasks, and someone needs to step forward to tell the team about activity on that user story, such as a task that he or she is working on towards that user story.  User stories not talked about would become immediately conspicuous and the team can quickly become of aware of whether or not attention needs to be turned to it!  To my mind, this would immediately bring primary focus to the sprint and the deliverables and how to get the user stories/tasks from one side of the board to the other.  User-story-focused rather than person-focused.  This could improve the level of relevance of what gets spoken during the stand-up and really foster team collaboration. Just an idea I think I might try…

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