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Category: Scrum Patterns / Scrum Technique Patterns / Daily Scrum Patterns

Pattern:Talking Stick Daily Scrum

Also Known As: "Pass the Token", "Toss the Microphone"

Warning! Patterns are not a concrete methodology, and using only documented patterns is a sure fire way to destroy creativity and innovation. More here.

Pattern Summary:

  • The person speaking in a Daily Scrum holds a "talking stick" or token of some sort.
  • Helps Focus Team.
  • Smooth Speaker Transitions.

Possibly Good For:

  • Bored Teams.Change it up!
  • Teams that have trouble focusing.
  • Forces people to pay attention.
  • Possible Strategy For Distributed Teams (Well received!):"Random Order: Toss the microphone".
    • Have each person on the video conference or call indicate that they are done giving their update by saying something like "I'm going to toss the microphone to Kelly now." It's best to have the order of "tossing" be random, so that everyone has to pay attention. If they don't pay attention, they might not realize it's their turn to talk or might accidentally toss the microphone to someone who has already gone. If they do toss to someone who has already gone, the dev team should ridicule the person in a good natured way... "Uhhhh--Ohhhhhh!" This helps solve some of the common problems around people trying to multi-task while on Daily Scrum conferences. It also re-enforces self organization vs. having a Scrum Master or other person doing a "roll-call" type Daily Scrum.
      • I've observed and had reports from numerous teams that this strategy works fabulously! I've also had reports of people using the same strategy for distributed teams during Sprint Planning, Retrospectives, and Backlog Refinement.
  • Possible Strategy: For Co-located Teams:"Random Order, Toss the Stick"
    • Has the same benefits of "Random Order: Toss the microphone" as described above. You can have people "toss the [metaphorical] microphone", or a talking stick of some sort, like a small, soft, ball. Be sure that any tossing of a physical object is not seen as unprofessional or physically harmful/threatening.

Possibly Bad For:

  • Bored Teams.Change it up! (Not necessarily a permanent change - could be temporary).
  • Teams annoyed by the "kitchiness" of passing a talking stick/token around.
  • Teams where the talking stick is seen as a very strict rule where no one else can "chime in" on their discussion. Obviously the Daily Scrum should maximize transparency to the Dev Team. It might be useful to <Encourage Comments From Others> to help mitigate this problem.

Pattern Details & References:

Pattern Contributors:

  • Charles Bradley

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