Transparency & Authenticity in Daily Planning

blogimage_authenticity-daily-planningConsider this a continuation of my earlier discussion, Daily Planning saves Canaries (Projects). There I discussed how projects go off-track one day at a time, and how the Daily Planning session provides a vehicle for ensuring we don’t kill our canaries (or projects). Here I want to reinforce 6 concepts that are essential to transparency and authenticity in Daily Planning:

  1. Commitment to the Sprint
  2. Collaboration and Clarification
  3. Everyone has a Voice
  4. Remove the Roadblocks
  5. Improvement Opportunities
  6. WIP Limits

Commitment to the Sprint

Completing the work the Team committed to can be a challenge for Teams new to Agile. It is imperative that the ScrumMaster instill the importance of meeting commitments to develop the right mindset. Commitment to the Sprint entails dedication by each Team member in time and spirit. Over time, the Team understands what it can realistically commit to.

Collaboration and Clarification

“Planning has a very strong human element, it’s not just about 0’s and 1’s”

When used at a high level, Daily Planning can enhance collaboration and clarification. Daily Planning has a very strong human element:

  • It’s not just about 0’s and 1’s
  • It’s about the shared interaction
  • It’s about positive experiences
  • It’s about driving toward an outcome
  • It’s about personal commitment and accountability

Everyone has a Voice

Team members should be encouraged to actively participate regardless of title or tenure. Daily Planning should reinforce a collective mindset. Your voice should matter.

Remove the Roadblocks

A key component of Agile is about flow and removing those things that cause the flow of value to stop. The Daily Planning session allows the Team to recognize and address impediments. Once an impediment is identified, the Team needs to determine its priority and how to remove it. If it is something the Team has the ability to address, then they should self organize to remove the impediment based on its priority. If the impediment is beyond the control of the team then the ScrumMaster should escalate the issue in order to get it addressed at the right level and in the most expeditious manner possible.

Improvement Opportunities

“The Daily Planning session allows Team members the opportunity to pull away from their busy day to inspect and adapt”

The Daily Planning session allows Team members the opportunity to pull away from their busy day to inspect and adapt to what is happening at the Sprint level and make the necessary adjustments before diving back into their work. It helps to foster improvements and learned behaviors that correlate to higher proficiency and higher quality.

WIP Limits

Setting work in progress (or WIP) limits is helpful in maximizing the flow of work within a Sprint. The ScrumMaster can monitor and adjust the flow of work by:

Limiting the number of Stories that are worked on concurrently.

Limiting the number of Tasks worked on concurrently either at the Team Level using WIP limits at the appropriate Task State or at the individual level using avatars.

Establishing WIP limits can be part of the Team’s working agreements and it allows a Team to focus and concentrate on a pre-defined set of items emphasizing the mantra “stop starting, start finishing”.

Final Thoughts

Essential things to remember to get the most out of your Daily Planning session is to:

  • Make all work visible
  • Update the physical or electronic board prior to the Daily Planning session
  • Maintain discipline regarding the Daily Planning structure
  • Avoid pitfalls and smells at all costs!
  • Encourage creativity by the Team members regarding the Daily Planning session to keep it fresh.
  • Have fun!

Remember, projects get late one day a time. Using working software as the true measure of progress and conducting effective Daily Planning will help your Team to better meet their commitments without killing any canaries. (What is this business about killing canaries? Go back and read “Daily Planning saves Canaries (Projects)” a post from earlier this month.)