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A recent class graduate wrote me, checking if the new team Scrum Board at her medical devices company was right to set the teams up for fast iterations and tight focus.


“For the daily scrum I have set up the board as such: Stories | Task To-Do | Task In-Progress | Task Done | Blocked. In the Stories column we have pulled in stories from our Backlog and then in the Task To-Do we have broken down the stories by the tasks we think we need to complete the story. I wanted to know:

  1. Is that an appropriate way to set up the scrum board?
  2. In the daily scrum, is the goal to make sure the tasks as talked about and moved along?
  3. Is having tasks too minute? Or is that part of best practices? Or should the stories be the things being put in the ‘Task In-progress’ column?”
I replied:
“1. That sounds healthy enough. I’m sure the columns will evolve as the actual value-stream-map of the work becomes more and more visible. a column like “finance review” may emerge, for example, depending on the more common work-flows for your teams.
2. The goal of daily scrum is to replan to be happier and faster (which is exactly what you said- make sure the tasks move along, but maybe even more pointed to say “move along FASTER than they would have without the daily scrum) AND to achieve high communication saturation. If you can remember, and I know it may be a lot to keep in mind when a team is just starting, please do make the center of that entire conversation the sprint goal, so team members don’t get stuck in the details or tasks and instead are mentally focused on the larger sprint goal and the constraints needed to meet to show it’s done.
3. tasks MAY be too minute, but I wouldn’t worry about that one too much as long as all work is spoken about in terms of the sprint goal. If the team starts just talking about tasks and not all the tasks seem completely vital to the sprint goal, or the sprint goal itself is vague or doesn’t exist, that’s the problem then. A team focussing only on tasks can build the wrong thing fast or be very productive but ship nothing- real business risks. But if that’s not happening, tasks may be the right level of split for your team.
Cheering you on!”
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