The Talking-in Order during the Daily Standup

When I search for some cases of Daily Standup, there is a very interesting point that people usually concern with, which is the talking-in order. Two questions emerge from it commonly as follows.

WHO IS THE FIRST?

and

WHO IS THE NEXT?

The Scrum Guide introduces the rules of Daily Standup meetings so simply, in which there is even no emphasis on the speaking order. So why? Are the answers to these two questions important? I reckon YES.

Firstly, I would say if there is no team member who has considered these kind of questions, there must be a fallacy among the Agile team. Who can decide which one’s speaking triggers the current Daily Standup meeting? And who can take charge of prioritising the speaking sequence of the development team members? Nobody can, not even the Scrum Master, but only the Development Team itself. The Scrum Guide indicates that

The Scrum Master ensures that the Development Team has the meeting, but the Development Team is responsible for conducting the Daily Scrum.

As a self-organising team, the Development Team should make an agreement on the speaking order. If each member is asked to talk in sequentially by the facilitator, then it would be a bureaucratic report meeting.

Secondly, The Scrum Guide defines the Daily Standup is a 15-minute time-boxed meeting. The Development Team should inspect the work and plan for the next in such limited timespan in order to optimise the probability of meeting the Sprint Goal. Hence,

conducting Daily Standup meetings efficiently and effectively

is a crucial work the entire team has to contribute to, as opposed to performing simple status meetings. This is also the fundamental purpose of raising the two issues mentioned above.

Let’s have a look at some widely used approaches applied for the speaking order introduced by Jason Yip. Who is the person talking in first? One conventional solution is that last arrival speaks first, while Jason has also pointed out a tendency that “the last arrival is also likely to be the person who is least prepared to start off the meeting well“. With regard to the priority techniques (also includes picking up the first speaker), Jason lists three of them in his post It’s Not Just Standing Up: Patterns for Daily Standup Meetings, which are predictable ordering, unpredictable ordering and ‘Take a Card’ game. The detailed rules, benefits and drawbacks have been identified in the post. Although Jason did not point out the shortcomings of ‘Take a Card’ game, I do not think that this approach can help the team accomplish the fundamental purpose proposed above. There may still be a tendency to prepare or think of other things rather than pay attention to what others are saying in this manner.

As far as I’m concerned, a simple random system could be considered to build. Since the team has been formed ready, the Scrum Master input the names of all development team members into the system. At the beginning of Daily Standup meetings, the last arrival presses the button to produce a member’s name randomly who will speak first. After he or she finished, press the button to introduce the next member to talk in, and so on. I suppose the system could help each member focus on the current speaking and facilitate the efficiency and effectiveness of the meetings. Any suggestions?

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