Handling dysfunctions within a Scrum team

Posted on May 5th, 2010 in Agile by siddharta || 2 Comments

This is a guest post by Venkatesh Krishnamurthy. Venkatesh is a Bangalore based agile blogger who blogs at http://agileworld.blogspot.com. Here is Venkatesh:

How do we handle late comers to a Standup meeting?

One of the first rules of Scrum Meeting is to ensure that it is conducte at the same time every day at the same place.  It also expects that the team members should come on time to the Scrum Meeting.

Typical practice is that, late comers to the Scrum Meetings should either wear a joker cap or pay a $ as punishment for arriving late.  However many thought leaders share that these practices of punishment is bad and it is not going to improve the situation or change the behavior of the late comers. Worse, Thought Leaders proficient in Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation, believe that, over a period of time the extrinsic motivators(reward or punishment) actually reduces the intrinsic motivation too.

So, what should we do in this situation ?

How do we handle the late comers ?

Should we ignore them ?

How do we make them come on time ?

The answer is not easy. Researchers believe that there is no one formula that could be used to motivate every one. If someone is not coming on time to the Scrum meeting, it means either he/she is not interested or does not believe in these meetings or it could be something else. One needs to identify the root cause of lack of intrinsic motivation and work on an individual basis rather than applying the same reward/punishment formula.

Cognitive Evaluation Theory and FLOW seem to provide some insights to improve Intrinsic motivation.

A couple of my thoughts:

  1. I’m not sure you should “make” people come on time. Instead this seems to be an area for 1-on-1 coaching. Perhaps the team member doesn’t see why it is useful. In that case, the importance of the standup needs to be coached.
  2. Sometimes the standup really doesn’t add value. Often times the standup becomes a boring status update meeting that nobody is looking forward to. Is there a way to fix that?

So what do you think? How would you handle this situation?

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2 Responses to “Handling dysfunctions within a Scrum team”

  1. Robert Says:

    I think this meeting is really important and everybody should be there on time. So if somebody shows up late at the meeting I stop the meeting and ask the one, why he is not showing up on time. Normally I do this, when nobody in the Team knows, why he/she is late. If this happens a few times in row, the Team themselves will talk to him/her or it will be a discussion point for the retrospective.

    If somebody is regularly late, I prefer your suggestion for an 1on1 meeting or a talk to the Team Leader of this team member.

    Cheers, Robert

  2. Ajie Says:

    Hi Siddharta,

    Thanks for this nice article. We figured out that standup meetings are great but needed improvement (they took a lot of time and de-focused our colleagues). Because of this we developed a SaaS tool to “automate” the daily standup meetings – with just a single email. If you like to take a look: http://www.30secondsmail.com.



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