Why the Daily Standup is time-boxed to 15 minutes
Last week a team member asked a great question that shines in its simplicity: Who cares if we take 20 or 25 minutes for our Daily Standup? Why does it have to be 15 minutes or less?
The answer is quite simple: because the Scrum Guide says so.
Of course that’s not really an answer, so let’s go a little deeper. According to the Scrum Guide the purpose of the Daily Scrum is
[…] to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and adapt the Sprint Backlog as necessary, adjusting the upcoming planned work. — Scrum Guide
So the Sprint Goal is central, and if there is a deviation necessary the Daily Scrum is the moment to discuss it.
Next to that I see two important additional uses for the Daily Scrum
- To create connections between team members. Giving and getting help is one of the things that makes a team a team. To make progress someone might need help from someone else in the team, benefitting the whole.
- To highlight any other important business. There might be a cool workshop coming up, or some tests that have failed, or a fire drill announcement. If it’s important for the whole team I prefer the Daily Scrum over a message on whatever your chat of preference is.
Doing these things should not regularly take you more than 15 minutes. If it takes you more than 15 minutes, it might be a signal that something is amiss. Things that I’ve seen that lead to overrunning:
- Not having a Sprint Goal
- Walking the board, discussing everything (sometimes everything except the Sprint Goal)
- Everyone wanting to say something
- Focussing on telling the whole story rather than only the conclusion and action
- Giving a complete status update, also on everything that is on track
- Multiple Sprint Goals (a signal that there might be too many people on the team)
- Discussions going on between two or three people
- And of course while all of the above is happening: people checking out rather than intervening
There might be many more things going on that lead to the Daily Scrum overrunning. It’s amazing how much this small 15 minute get-together can tell you about how your team is doing.
In conclusion, the 15 minutes isn’t holy. You can overrun it sometimes, if it’s for a good reason. But it does have a strong signalling function that something else is not how it should be.
If you regularly overrun the 15 minute mark, take a deeper look into why it’s happening, and try to improve on it.
If you want to know what pattern you could apply to stay within the time-box, take a look at my other article about the Daily Scrum.