Asking a standard set of daily standup questions is good practice. It reduces planning time for the meeting and ensures everyone knows what to expect and prepare.
But sticking to a default pair of prompts day after day puts people on autopilot. They’ll recite boilerplate status updates and stop listening to others while their minds are focused elsewhere.
To keep your daily standups fun and valuable, you need to know the three most-used questions and their purpose but also have an arsenal of alternatives to mix things up when your meetings are about to go stale.
Here’s a quick overview, so you can jump to the section that fits your needs:
👩🏾🎓 Check out our Daily Standups Resource Hub for a 101 overview or refresher on standups.
Scrum’s daily standup questions
Scrum’s 3 daily standup questions are:
- What did you do yesterday?
- What will you do today?
- Are there any blockers or impediments preventing you from doing your work?
The Scrum Guide no longer prescribes the three Daily Scrum questions, but many teams still use them to structure the meeting.
Daily standup questions from other meeting formats
The questions below come in sets, so you can take them to replace Scrum’s standup prompts entirely.
Daily wrap-up questions
- What’s worth sharing?
- What needs feedback?
- Who do you need help from?
Matt Galligan, co-founder and CEO of Web3 startup XMTP, recommends a daily wrap-up with the questions above instead of standup. You do it at the end of the day, so your work is still fresh in your mind.
These open questions prevent useless answers that the standard prompts might evoke. They’re also broad and optional, reducing the need for forced responses. Finally, they encourage people to focus only on what others need to know rather than report every task they perform.
Parabol runs a version of the daily wrap-up every week. We call it the Friday Ship and write a public blog about what we achieved for investors and people in our hiring pipeline.
Sprint Goal questions
- What did we (as a team) achieve to get closer to the Sprint Goal?
- What’s blocking us from focusing on the Sprint Goal?
- What do we agree on doing today to ensure we reach the Sprint Goal?
The idea for these daily standup questions comes from Olaf Lewitz, a veteran Agile coach. He suggests altering the three standard Scrum questions to shift focus from individual team members to the Sprint Goal.
Walk the board questions
To walk the board, you can use the following questions:
- What can we finish today?
- What is blocking us from getting item X done?
- Does everyone have what they need to focus on their top priority items?
These questions require you to all be looking at a Kanban, Sprint, or Scrum board. You start from the board’s right side with the items closest to reaching the Done column. Go over the first two questions to figure out what’s in the way of completing each item, ideally today.
You work your way left until you reach items that the team has just started. Finally, with the third question, you give everyone a chance to speak up about anything they need for the day’s work.
Completed work questions
- What work items have you completed since our previous standup?
- What work items are you planning to complete by when?
This utilitarian approach doesn’t work for every agile team. It extracts from people which work items they have done and what they’re going to do – no if’s, buts, or other shades of gray.
These questions don’t allow people to go into lengthy debates about blockers. This approach assumes people discuss such issues as soon as they come up throughout the day.
Sticking to these two questions keeps your daily standup functional and short. That benefit can be enough to convince some hard-hitting teams to make the trade-off of losing the softer side of their daily standups.
Alternative standup questions for facilitators
You can add the following questions to any standup format, use them to replace existing prompts, or drop them in occasionally for variety.
We’ve categorized the questions by themes and goals, so you can quickly find a question that matches your team’s current needs.
📈 Progress checking standup questions
These alternative standup questions help you check and make progress by identifying risks and opportunities for improvement.
- How satisfied are you with our progress toward our (Sprint) goal on a scale of 1-5?
- How likely are we to achieve our Sprint Goal?
- What’s changed since yesterday?
- What would it take to finish this item, and who can work on it?
- What do we still need to learn in this Sprint or project?
- What worries you about the Sprint or project?
- What can or should we do differently?
- Are you working on anything that wasn’t planned?
- What are you working on today?
⛑️ Unblocking standup questions
The following daily standup questions uncover blockers and opportunities for team members to help each other.
- What help could you most use that you haven’t asked for?
- Where are you stuck?
- Who has a blocker that needs resolving?
- Have we identified any new risks?
- What’s in our control about this issue, and what’s not?
- On a scale from 1 to 10, how full is your plate right now?
- Who could use some help?
- Who do you need help from?
- Does anyone need another pair of eyes on something?
- What help do you need to make this action item happen?
- Who has some time to help someone else?
- What is the outcome you’re looking for?
- What do you need? (To follow up with: “Did you get what you need?”)
💪 Motivating standup questions
Use these prompts to check in on team members’ well-being and improve their state of mind.
- How do you feel about your work today? Red, amber, or green?
- What small thing would improve your day today?
- What are you grateful for today?
- Who has a win they want to share?
- What’s on your mind today?
- What are you NOT working on today? Why?
- What would make you feel accomplished if you completed it today?
😊 Fun standup questions
Nobody was ever fired for adding some fun to their standups (as far as we know!). These questions lighten up your meeting while revealing something useful about how your team members are doing. Consider dropping them in as icebreaker questions for your standup.
- If you had to describe how you’re feeling right now as a weather pattern, what’s your forecast?
- What animal best represents you today and why?
- Which Llama are you today?
Or try asking an icebreaker from Parabol’s random icebreaker generator.
🔝 Prioritization standup questions
These alternative inquiries help your team plan and prioritize their work and thinking.
- What’s the most important thing for us to talk about?
- What’s the one most important thing to share?
- Are we working on the most important items?
- What’s got your attention?
- Which story will we finish today?
- What do you commit to achieving today?
- What can we do next to move forward?
- What would a successful solution look and feel like?
- Are there any new tasks or requests we should discuss?
- Are you working on anything that wasn’t planned? How is that affecting your workload?
- What should we not do, stop, or change?
Make your life easy with Parabol’s online standup tool
Remote teams can do their standups manually on Zoom, with a standup bot, or in front of a board. But Parabol’s online standup tool can make your life so much easier. Why not try it out? It’s free!
We’ve run through every imaginable approach and tool for asynchronous standups ourselves but found that most:
- Disrupt your team’s flow of work.
- Involve sitting through long updates.
- Compromise those in different time zones.
- Get off track or run over time.
That’s why we’ve developed our own online standup solution. It saves your entire team time while staying up-to-date. You can share updates on your own time, set a cadence that suits your team, and review updates when you’re ready.
Create your own daily standup questions
You have two options left when none of these questions work for your team:
- Shake things up by trying one of these 14 different daily standup meeting formats.
- Create and iterate on your own questions.
The Scrum Guide doesn’t prescribe any questions anymore, and designing, testing, and improving your own prompts is 100% agile.
Involve the team, use your retrospectives to reflect on your daily standup questions regularly, and off you go to bolder and better standups! 🚀
💡 Check out our Daily standup hub for an overview of all our resources on daily standups.