Better Daily Planning Meetings: Asking the Right Questions

When coaching teams and observing their daily planning (aka standup) meetings I often hear the following questions asked:

  • What did you work on yesterday?
  • What will you work on today?
  • What is impeding your work?

These same questions are asked even with experienced teams. But are these the right questions to ask in a daily planning meeting? I submit that teams that ask these questions are in need of a paradigm shift. Are the answers to these questions really what we want to hear? I doubt it. What we really want to know is: How are we doing towards our goals in this iteration? So the focus should be less on the work and more on what actually got completed. Try these questions instead:

What did you get done yesterday?

What will you get done today?

What is preventing you from getting work done?

In other words, the focus should be on completing work, not just doing work. It is a somewhat subtle yet important point, that has other ramifications on how we do Scrum: We need to be breaking tasks down into small enough chunks to get accomplished in a day. If our goal is to complete user stories and get them accepted every two-three days, then tasks should be one day or less in length (in ideal time). It also means if tasks (or work) are not getting completed on a daily basis, we may have hidden impediments.

4 thoughts on “Better Daily Planning Meetings: Asking the Right Questions

  1. And not just what did you get done but what business value did you contribute. This keeps the focus on contribution towards the end goal rather than the minutiae of tasks along the way.

    • Thanks Arnel. Ultimately that’s the Product Owner’s responsibility. If the team is not delivering business value, that falls upon the single wring-able neck (the Product Owner). Only he/she can make that call.

  2. Joejv, That’s one of the impediments to “Agile” … The focus needs to be how to achieve success without breaking necks/blaming someone (incl the Product Owner).

    Business, Management, Teams.. They all need to understand this. If they fail, THEY fail together, not “Product Owner” fails alone !

  3. You replied to Asking the Right Questions. Is that the post you meant to reply to? The focus should be on completing work and delivering business value. If the focus is on blame, it is not an impediment but a poor implementation of Agile Principles and Values.

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