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Wake-Up call for the Daily Scrum

by on June 1, 2012

[This is a repost of a blog post that I originally wrote in German. The German version can be found here.]

Most people I know prefer to be woken up by music rather than by the annoying beep of a cheap electronic alarm clock. My daughter is a good example for that. I have to wake her up in the morning in order to be in time at her (elementary) school. This task is way easier to achieve when turning on music in her room as this lets her wake up slowly. She is more relaxed and seems to have more energy than when using a more disruptive wake-up technique.

Why am I telling you this? Well, from time to time some of our teams at CoreMedia behave similarly when it comes to gathering for the daily scrum.  The majority of our teams have their regular stand-up in the morning around 10 o’clock. Because of our flexible working hours some colleagues have already been working for more than an hour while others arrive just in time for the stand-up meeting.

This leads to the problem that some people are already engrossed in their work (even doing pair programming) while others might still be involved in some interesting (work related or not) conversations after returning from the coffee machine. The problem of both groups is that they tend to lose track of time. Thus team members need to be called to the daily scrum meeting by the scrum master. A “wake-up call” can even be necessary for the whole team.
In an ideal world the team should be self-organized enough to deal with situations like this. But from my experience there are situations in which this is just not the case, and the reasons for that can be manifold. Thus some team members need to be reminded of the daily scrum meeting.

To avoid a rather disruptive method like yelling “STANDUP everyone”, I came up with the idea to use music to remind the team of their daily scrum meeting. Using the speakers attached to my notebook to play Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up” worked quite well.

The effect was similar to waking up my daughter with music. At first everyone was looking puzzled. But just a few moments later they associated the title of the song with the stand-up meeting and gathered for the daily scrum (even though the lyrics really don’t fit for the purpose of a stand up meeting).

I then started to play music more often to call for the daily scrum – even if all team members where aware of the meeting. And just like my daughter seems to be more energized at the breakfast table after getting up with music, every team seemed to have more energy when being called by music rather than by an outlook reminder or a scrum master.
As I found out later, the idea of using music to remind people of a stand-up meeting wasn’t that new. Jason Yip, for example, suggested in a blog post to use Bob Marley’s “Get Up,  Stand Up”)  and Peter Saddington spread the word in a short article on agilescout.com.

Sooner or later, playing the same music for the stand-up meeting will turn boring. Thus you should vary the songs you play. I tried cover versions of the Bob Marley classic, but you could also use different songs, as long as the team can make a connection to the music. A simple search on youtube resulted in the following versions of the classic “Get Up, Stand Up” song:

  • Eric Clapton, Roger Waters & Nick Mason – Get Up Stand Up
  • Fonta – Get Up Stand Up
  • John Butler – Get Up Stand Up Toy Session
  • POD – Get up, stand up
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers – Get Up, Stand Up
  • Ben Harper, Oppression – Get Up Stand Up Live
  • Get up stand up Exodus – Tribute to Santana
  • Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Tracy Chapman, Youssou N’Dour – Get Up Stand Up
  • The Rolling Stones – Get Up Stand Up (live Bob MarleyPeter Tosh cover)

I can only suggest that you try calling your team to the daily scrum by using music, too. Beside the humorous aspect of using music to remind everyone of the meeting, from my perspective it has also an energizing effect on the team. Jason Yip suggested in another very good article about good standups on martinfowler.com that a standup should be a good start into the work day. From my experience music is a helpful element in getting this good start.

Please let us know about your experiences with calling a team to the daily scrum meeting!

From → Agile, Tips & Tricks

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