After picking up a rugby ball over the weekend to use as a prop or talking stick I sprung it on two Scrum projects today. I just explained that the ball when you held the ball you talked and when you were done you passed it on to the next person.
On the first standup which is only about 6 days into it’s first Sprint I think it helped focus the conversations around what the team was working on and kept some of the divergent conversations down. On past standups the meeting had broken down to the point that issues were discussed, but the simple what you did the last 24 hours, what you’re doing for the next 24 hours, and any impediments got lost. It also appeared to help the focus from the Scrum Master to the team members which was really part of the point.
On the second standup today with a team that’s on it’s sixth Sprint the results were more mixed. This is a team that has standups down pretty well, but occasionally focuses on the Scrum Master to keep the flow of the standup moving. I was hoping to break some of that default behavior.
First they wanted to know who thought up the idea and I gladly acknowledged that I had over the weekend upon seeing one at a local soccer shop. I explained that the idea of a talking stick had been used on many other Scrum projects. At least two developers thought it was unusual enough to just lay the ball on the table when it was their turn instead of just holding it while talking. And one developer who’s more of an observer announced he would just ‘pass’ a very simple pun, as he handled the ball to the developer on his right.
Overall I think it’s been a fun experiment, but on the more mature Scrum project we might end up dropping the idea. Definitely something to reevaluate in the retrospective if not even sooner.