Daily huddle is, but active listening! my luv

Here are just two activities that I recommend to my teams when they participate in a daily huddle:

-Pay attention to what your team member  says. It will end in under two minutes.  Then do the same to each and every one. As they speak, connect to what they said yesterday.  (You have now effectively listened to 5-6 people speak)

-When its your turn,  speak clearly, make your task relevant to the teams’ work as much as possible.

By making these two the core expectations of the huddle, the realization is we:

1. Never paid attention to our colleagues and team members during any meeting.

2. We were always getting ready to counter they statements, or getting ready to speak.

3. That is why we heavily relied on meeting notes, long laundry lists…… and so on and so forth.

4. And is that why we needed extended “STATUS” meetings all the time?
NOW the funny part is…….. Organizations have been having meetings for ever. They begin at 5:00 am if you have near shore, offshore employees….. and some start at midnight.  Then why is the daily huddle called on as a “pain” / “prescribed by Scrum” or being labelled as a failure by Agile Coaches as “team members are lazy”

Scrum asks teams to practice: LISTENING.  ACTIVE LISTENING.  which means… SHOWING RESPECT.

My secondary objective to set the bar high from day 1 of the daily huddle is also to inform their Managers, Leaders, C-Execs…. “People! Yes, your team meets everyday at a certain time. Yes. they discuss tasks. Oh but wait. YOU cannot hijack that meeting to get status reporting. Nope”.  Sorry. you are allowed to participate. Listen and observe. Provide your two minute update.  YES. You need to actively listen. and SHOW RESPECT.

As a team matures and evolves, they will understand the “street play” that is being staged during the huddle.  Without prompting, they will realize who needs to start first, who will take the talking token next (if they are using one) and begin to enjoy the ceremony in harmony.

I do have a third and a fourth objective to stress the relevance of active listening. Soon to come …






Connecting to the inner Agilist

Lunch was heavy… followed by a quick chat with  a couple of Scrum Masters about User Stories and Acceptance Criteria.  We gathered around a white board observing sketches. One of them narrated a story of  wanting to have nice trees, nice sunshine, nice time. The other narrated a series of activities. This set the tone for our continued discussions on why we need to have conversations until we are ready to write a story! .. “Don’t start writing, because we call it a user story.  Wait till you are quite certain that you have found the absolute reasons to want that damn thing!”  Get your Who, What and Why.  And you are clear about How you want it. Remember based on how you want it.. is how people will be thinking about “How to get it to you?” and “How to to ensure its quality?”

Thus after a heavy Friday lunch followed by casual conversations on user stories readied me for another session with a group of Scrum Masters’ to quickly chat about “Iteration Planning”.  While reviewing my expectations from the session, I realized  that a slide / handout based format may not be suitable – since my primary objective was to “connect them” to their “Inner Agilists”.

I introduced myself to the group and mentioned that I was there to provide more clarity on planning and quoted incidents from my personal life. When everyone was done with their introductions we had the following data: Planning and executing an event is exhaustive, sometimes it is much better to plan and execute individually to have better control, sometimes you feel as if you are tilted backwards almost to the point of falling before things actually happen,  planning with other makes everything inefficient, in personal life we are probably planning 24/7,  sometimes things are actually forgotten when we collaborate, there are time when you allow life to take over – it works perfectly fine and there is more fun.

As we discussed we realized that we bring these thoughts with us into our teams and tend to draw parallel to our personal lives.  Once we made the connection, understanding the essence and value of an iteration planning was easy.  No one dozed off, but left for home in high spirits.