Work Naked. -- Cartoon -- April 2, 2007

Welcome back to another week at
We introduced a translation page early last week and the response has been great to date! So far we have seven translated versions of “The Chicken and Pig” with lots more in the pipeline…. and remember, it is not limited to just the first comic or blog entry — if you have an interest, please feel free to help us add to the site!I want to thank Tami Clark (on an agile team at for pushing me to get the comic out this week. It has been on my mind for a while, and well, here we go!

The topic for this week is regarding dysfunctional scrum (or stand-up) meetings.

Here is the way they “should” work:

The team stands up and faces one another. Sometimes this is a circle, sometimes it is a square. It does not matter… people should stand up.

Chickens cannot talk during this fifteen minute meeting. Yes. This should not last more than fifteen minutes.

Each person on the Scrum Team takes their turn answering the three questions, which can include:

1) What have I completed since the last meeting?
2) What will I complete before the next meeting?
3) What is in my way (impediments)?

Yes, the nuances of how the questions are asked can be a little different, but sticking to answering the three questions is key. The Scrum Police will not come after you if you do not ask the questions specifically as they have been listed above (for example, “completed” can be replaced with “done” or whatever).

The key thing that this daily meeting is set up to do is so that each team member can communicate with the rest of the team on what they are doing and what they need help with.

Here is where I have seen these meetings go bad….

– The meeting lasts for an hour. And nobody seems to care.
– People talk about things that are not related to the three questions.
– Team members try to solve problems.
– Chickens speak.
– People sit.
– Cell phones on. Laptops open. People “checked out.”
– People show up late, or do not even bother to show up.
– Status reporting to the ScrumMaster.

I will address each of these topics in a little more detail.

Is it an exhaustive list?


Is it in any specific order?


However, if you see some of these topics popping up when you are working day-to-day, maybe it’s time to figure out — as a team — what can be done to fix things.

– The meeting lasts for an hour. And nobody seems to care.

Apathy sucks. If your team is having diareah of the mouth and the stand-up is lasting more than fifteen minutes, the ScrumMaster needs to keep the team focused on answering the three questions.

And move on.

– People talk about things that are not related to the three questions.

This topic feeds into the problem of the daily meeting going more than fifteen minutes. Yes, it is great that you are spending time outside the room on other things (even “life”); however, the purpose of this meeting is to answer the three questions and get coordinated.

You will have time during the remainder of the day (hey… you are collocated… correct?) to talk about that other stuff.

– Team members try to solve problems.

Ug. This is something I see from both new and experienced teams. If there is a problem (and, there usually are) that the team needs to solve, put it up on a board or list someplace visible in the team room and make sure people work on it and solve it during the workday.

– Chickens speak.

Enough said? If Chickens want to speak, they can speak AFTER the daily meeting.

– People sit.

Stand up. OK, unless you physically cannot do that.

It will help keep the meetings short.

And, it helps team members avoid the next topic….

– Cell phones on. Laptops open. People “checked out.”

Oye. Ug. Ouch. ScrumMaster — help the team come up with norms that help the teams get over this. It is a good topic for a retrospective (to be written about soon, I promise!).

– People show up late, or do not even bother to show up.

OK. Scrum “says” people should pay a penalty if they are a member of the team and they do not show up for a daily meeting. There are a ton of excuses, and people can get creative (like for instance… I have an “emergency” (wink) is used as a “valid” excuse to miss them).

Missing a daily meeting has an impact on the team.

Your team.

One that you are a part of!

Some of the penalities I have seen over the years include paying a dollar (or a LOT more), eating a pickle (one of those big disgusting ones out of a large jar — at 9:00 in the morning blech), wearing a hat, receiving a Scrum Witch, or… or…. or….

Penalties can get creative (as I have learned).


Show up. Avoid the silly penalties and excuses and be there for your team.

– Status reporting to the ScrumMaster

This is a classic pattern I see for teams converting from old waterfall approaches (with a command and control Project Manager) to agile approaches of doing work.

There is no role of “Project Manager” in Scrum.

For a reason.

The ScrumMaster is not a Project Manager in the classical sense.

So Scrum Team members… PLEASE do not give daily status reports to the ScrumMaster.

Gotta run…

Please send comments, questions, criticisms, ideas, or whatever here.

You can also enter The Scrum Community to discuss this entry and other Scrum topics. Thank you!

Originally Published:
April 2, 2007
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  1. Gustavo says

    Hi, these posts are great. I’m from Argentina and I’m tryinig to implement SCRUM (or something like that) in my organization.

    The question that comes up as soon as i read articles about the Scrum Master Role is this: how do you keep your company bosses and owners quiet regarding the “control” over the times “planned” and “comitted” releases? I know this is not a “scrum question” but it would be great to know how can i manage this situations as a scrum master “ex PMBOK project manager”. Thanks

    • says

      Hi Gustavo,

      Thanks for the comment. If you are really using Scrum — and your bosses are buying into it — try to have a conversation with them about keeping the time and budget fixed. Then, talk about Scope. As you start delivering what you commit to (as a Scrum Team), these questions usually go away. Ironically people hear Scrum and want it better – cheaper – faster and that is not the case. Tough Conversation. Good luck!

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