24 August 2009

Beware Ceremony

The ScrumMaster asks,
"On belay?"
to signify the end of standup.

You and teammates affirm,
Belay on!
when the actual intent is to let your teammates fall to their deaths.

Some teams feel the need for a signal to indicate the end of a standup. Perhaps this is most suitable for a team comprised of recent agile adoptees.

For the more cynical of us, the “On Belay? / Belay On” question & response makes for a thought-provoking metaphor. It might be even an appropriate metaphor if every team-member has your back, but it might wear thin if there’s an undercurrent of mistrust.

In the post All For One, One For All - Signal the End of Your Stand-ups, agile coach Ken Clyne urges us to have a clear sign that standup is over. I'm torn about Ken's suggestion. I agree it is sometimes helpful to have a signal for the end of standup.

My first ScrumMaster, Markus Silpala, used to declare with varying degrees of enthusiasm,
"Scrum out"
Perhaps Markus sensed we were a joyfully cynical lot that could only abide a minimalist's touch.

My caveat is to be careful of gratuitous ceremony. I think Markus had it right.

I caution against the potential for rah-rah cheesiness in your standup. It's probably yet another flaw that has hindered my professional advancement, but I cringe at the first sniff of scripted ceremony.