Are the 3 Scrum Questions (From Before the 2020 Guide) Output Focussed or Outcome Focussed?

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Before the most recent release of the Scrum Guide there were 3 questions documented in the Daily Scrum section of the guide. These questions were:

  • What did I do yesterday that helped the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal?
  • What will I do today to help the Development Team meet the Sprint Goal?
  • Do I see any impediment that prevents me or the Development Team from meeting the Sprint Goal?

Over the various revisions of the guide the importance of these questions was gradually eroded. In the first version of the scrum Guide (from 2010) it was stated “During the meeting, each Team member explains […]”; in the 2017 revision this was changed to “Here is an example of what might be used […]”; then finally in the 2020 guide the questions were removed.

As the questions are posed in the guide the questions are quite output focussed, but they have an overlay of outcome by relating it the Sprint Goal. In my experience, the questions are usually simplified during the Daily Scrum and become purely focussed on output. I’ve usually experienced the questions as:

  • What did I do yesterday?
  • What will I do today?
  • Do I have any impediment/blockers?

Although the wording of the questions has only dropped the reference to the Sprint Goal, the intent of the questions has changed quite significantly. They’ve gone from a focus on the outputs relating to the outcome we are trying to achieve and have become purely focussed on how my time has or will be utilised and what will stop me from utilising my time for productivity.

By removing the questions from the Scrum Guide, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland have returned the focus of the Daily Scrum to the outcomes stated by the Sprint Goal.

# What does this mean in practice?

By initially changing the questions from ones that must be asked to ones that could be asked and then to removing them entirely, teams are more empowered to determine how they can best assess their progress toward the Sprint Goal. Within some of the teams I’ve worked with since the 2020 revision of the Scrum Guide was released we chose to drop the questions entirely and added the following to our ways of working document:

The Daily Scrum aims to answer the following questions (but they aren’t specifically asked):

  • What is blocked and how can they be unblocked?
  • What is progressing slower than expected and how can it be sped up?
  • Is there anything not on the board that may impact us today?
  • Do we have any learnings that may change what we plan to do next?
  • Are we adhering to WiP limits and if not how can we complete work in progress?

By making this change we have removed all focus on individual outputs and are focussing on the outcomes defined in the Sprint Goal. Of course we still need to be careful that our Sprint Goal is outcome based and not output based; but this would be the subject of a different article.