How Using "I" Vs "We" In a Daily Standup Is a Big Tell

March 1, 2018 — Posted by Al Shalloway

In the Scrum Guide, the Daily Scrum suggests using these three questions:

  1. What did I do yesterday that helped the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal?
  2. What will I do today to help the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal?
  3. Do I see any impediment that prevents me or the Development Team from meeting the Sprint Goal?

You’ll notice the focus is on the individual.  In a Kanban standup, the questions would be different;

  1. What did we do yesterday?
  2. What will we do today?
  3. What challenges are we having?

With a good Kanban board the first two questions will take very little time.  Now the difference between “I” and “we” may not seem to be that much, but it actually is.  Here’s why.

Focusing on the individual is not Lean. The biggest difference between Scrum and Kanban is that Scrum is based on empirical process control and Kanban is based on systems-thinking. Systems-thinking suggests that most of the challenges are due to the system and not the individual. Hence a focus on the individual’s progress or problems doesn’t’ make much sense. It also suggests having explicit workflow so that people can have a common frame of reference.  This enables the Deming Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle with the team building a better understanding of their work.  This is the second biggest difference between Scrum and Kanban – Kanban suggests full visibility of the workflow while Scrum has every story have it’s own delineated with tasks – again highlighting that there is not an overall systems view.

Another advantage of talking about “we” is that the team can run experiments and no one is wrong – it’s a “we” thing.  We can run experiments and learn together.

We don’t want to put people on the spot. In many companies adopting Scrum the teams are not well-gelled. People don’t really like talking about their challenges.  Talking about their blockages feels like there is something wrong with them.  I’m not saying that there is something wrong with them, but it feels that way.  Again, it’s a team, not an individual having a problem.

We are trying to collaborate and therefore should work as a team. By having explicit workflows, people on the team know what individuals are doing. You therefore don’t need to discuss what individuals are doing. A good Kanban board will tell you that. The time of the daily standup can therefore be spent on solving the problems of the team.

The Bottom Line

While “I” or “we” may look insignificant, it is a significant indicator of the mindset.  The systems-thinking basis of Kanban means we look at our system and see how to improve it. We have an agreed upon workflow and agreements that we explicitly state. It’s all of us in it together – not a collection of individuals working together.  This is a significant difference. 

If you are interested in learning more, check out:

Al Shalloway

 

Subscribe to our blog Net Objectives Thoughts Blog

Share this:

About the author | Al Shalloway

Al Shalloway is the founder and CEO of Net Objectives. With 45 years of experience, Al is an industry thought leader in Lean, Kanban, product portfolio management, Scrum and agile design. He helps companies transition to Lean and Agile methods enterprise-wide as well teaches courses in these areas.



        

Blog Authors

Al Shalloway
Business, Operations, Process, Sales, Agile Design and Patterns, Personal Development, Agile, Lean, SAFe, Kanban, Kanban Method, Scrum, Scrumban, XP
Cory Foy
Change Management, Innovation Games, Team Agility, Transitioning to Agile
Guy Beaver
Business and Strategy Development, Executive Management, Management, Operations, DevOps, Planning/Estimation, Change Management, Lean Implementation, Transitioning to Agile, Lean-Agile, Lean, SAFe, Kanban, Scrum
Israel Gat
Business and Strategy Development, DevOps, Lean Implementation, Agile, Lean, Kanban, Scrum
Jim Trott
Business and Strategy Development, Analysis and Design Methods, Change Management, Knowledge Management, Lean Implementation, Team Agility, Transitioning to Agile, Workflow, Technical Writing, Certifications, Coaching, Mentoring, Online Training, Professional Development, Agile, Lean-Agile, SAFe, Kanban
Ken Pugh
Agile Design and Patterns, Software Design, Design Patterns, C++, C#, Java, Technical Writing, TDD, ATDD, Certifications, Coaching, Mentoring, Professional Development, Agile, Lean-Agile, Lean, SAFe, Kanban, Kanban Method, Scrum, Scrumban, XP
Marc Danziger
Business and Strategy Development, Change Management, Team Agility, Online Communities, Promotional Initiatives, Sales and Marketing Collateral
Max Guernsey
Analysis and Design Methods, Planning/Estimation, Database Agility, Design Patterns, TDD, TDD Databases, ATDD, Lean-Agile, Scrum
Scott Bain
Analysis and Design Methods, Agile Design and Patterns, Software Design, Design Patterns, Technical Writing, TDD, Coaching, Mentoring, Online Training, Professional Development, Agile
Steve Thomas
Business and Strategy Development, Change Management, Lean Implementation, Team Agility, Transitioning to Agile
Tom Grant
Business and Strategy Development, Executive Management, Management, DevOps, Analyst, Analysis and Design Methods, Planning/Estimation, Innovation Games, Lean Implementation, Agile, Lean-Agile, Lean, Kanban