There is an English proverb commonly written as, "Silence is golden." I attend many daily standup and user story grooming calls that could be politely described as "golden". A quiet team is often a symptom of a newer team learning to work together. They are still forming.
How do you get a tentative team talking during daily standups and user story grooming sessions?
Daily standups are easier to solve. These meetings are quick with a streamlined agenda. Calling on each person, in turn, can make short work of getting the daily standup questions answered and people into their day.
User story grooming is trickier. It is imperative the team understands each user story. Questions are vital, but sometimes in short supply. We use a couple of techniques to spur conversation and build understanding. We ask a team member how they might build the solution once the user story has been reviewed. This reveals if the team understands the ask. Have you ever thought you knew how to do something, but as soon as you tried to describe it out loud, more questions popped to mind? This is common. When a developer attempts to articulate the solution, additional questions arise which can be discussed immediately.
Our team uses planning poker to estimate our user stories. Each developer sends the scrum master their points estimate. Those with the lowest and highest estimates discuss why they voted as they did. The discussion may reveal additional complexities or simpler solutions. Either way the team benefits from the conversation.
I prefer to embrace the fuller version of the proverb which is, "speech is silver, silence is golden". Both are valuable, just not equally. The quiet meetings will pass as the team gains confidence. Until then, add a little silver to those golden meetings. Ask questions. Be direct. Call on people if necessary.
Before long, you might wish we were a little quieter.
Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash
Chris Halverson is an IT consultant focusing on ServiceNow development. Chris has built a career as a "jack of all trades." By blending his early experiences in tools integration and ITIL process work, ServiceNow became a natural evolution. Chris began focusing on ServiceNow in 2010 working with every version; seasonal pre-Aspen through today!