You start your sprint thinking you can get the work done. But as soon as the sprint starts, new information comes your way: stories are harder than expected, someone is out sick, a blizzard knocks a day out of your team’s schedule, etc.
When do you deal with this new information? Daily standup.
Standup is of course a chance to commit to each other what you will accomplish during the day. But it is also a chance to replan the rest of your sprint as necessary. From the Scrum Guide:
Every day, the Development Team should understand how it intends to work together as a self-organizing team to accomplish the Sprint Goal and create the anticipated Increment by the end of the Sprint.
Part of that is answering: are we still on track? If not, what are we going to do about it? Unfortunately, I have found that teams don’t do this naturally. Here is the best trick I’ve found for building and maintaining this important habit:
- At the end of every standup, ask this question: On a scale of 1-5, how confident are you that–as a team–you will complete the Sprint Goal by the end of the sprint?
- Count 3-2-1 and then everyone vote with their fingers (5=very confident)
- If anyone votes 3 or lower:
- Ask the voter: Why are you concerned?
- Ask the team: What can we as a team do to get this back on track?
- Repeat this for anyone else who voted 3 or lower.
In my experience, the hardest part about this is just asking the question. Teams naturally leap into action trying to help each other and problem solve; they just need the information brought to the surface. The voting takes virtually no time, and it forces the team members to look from the team/sprint perspective as opposed to the me/today perspective.
I now recommend this practice for every team, old and new. I hope it helps your team!
A few other things:
- This doesn’t work very well if you start mid-sprint. It’s actually best if you ask the question before closing sprint planning, to ensure that you are actually starting your sprint from a position of confidences (4s and 5s).
- If you aren’t using Sprint Goals, change the question to ask whether you will complete all stories by the end of the sprint.
- Here’s a PDF of the daily question you can print and put on your team’s scrum board as a reminder.