What-If Daily Scrums

Dan North
I agree with Michael Kennedy when he says that Software Development could be modeled as a Knowledge Discovery Process, “the process of going from 0% knowledge about an idea to 100% knowledge of a finished product ready for delivery to a customer“.

I agree so much that I decided to adapt my future Daily Scrums to this.

In Introducing Deliberate Discovery Dan North quoted this story:

Liz Keogh told me about a thought experiment she came across recently. Think of a recent significant project or piece of work your team completed (ideally over a period of months). How long did it take, end to end, inception to delivery? Now imagine you were to do the same project over again, with the same team, the same organisational constraints, the same everything, except your team would already know everything they learned during the project. How long would it take you the second time, all the way through? Stop now and try it.

It turned out answers in the order of 1/2 to 1/4 the time to repeat the project were not uncommon. This led to the conclusion that “Learning is the constraint”.

Edit: Liz tells me the thought experiment and quote originated with Ashley Johnson of Gemba Systems, and she heard about it via César Idrovo.

Ask to the board, not to developers

We spend most of the time learning, rather than coding.

Consequently, I find no value in leading a Daily Scrum or a Stand-up meeting asking

What did you do yesterday?
What are you going to do, today?

since I find no interest in meetings that end up being Status Meetings.
The board should be already displaying all the information necessary to reply to those answers.

Did you learn? Tell me about it.

On the opposite, I’m very interested in learning what and how the team has been learning.

Hence, the question I would ask is

If only you knew yesterday what you know today, what could you have done yesterday?

What if you could travel back in time to yesterday? What would you do?

Think of the answers you may receive (or you may not receive) and what you could do together with your team to improve your Knowledge Discovery Process.



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