In addition to project scrums, we have a daily scrum of scrums at Four Kitchens. In this short, 15 minute meeting, we quickly run through each of our projects at a high level. We highlight any milestones that have been reached, mention funny or frustrating situations, and request any cross-team help that might be needed. Sometimes, a solution can be offered quickly within the scrum (e.g., “Try the X module”, “Cool, thanks”). Other times, a side discussion will develop. This can slow the pace of the scrum meeting pretty rapidly, forcing it to go long. Or, worse, developers tune out. To alert the team that we have been side tracked, any team member can do the Take It Offline dance. This dance/gesture was introduced organically by our very own Mark Theunissen to ease the pain of being asked to “take if offline.”
To perform the Take It Offline dance, you simply let your arms hang by your side, point your fingers like in the graphic above, and move your downwardly pointing hands up and down 6-8 inches in an alternating fashion. Verbally add “take it offline” for extra effect. Variations include speeding up the dance to indicate the urgency of taking the conversation offline.
One notable misapplication of the Take it Offline dance is to express “I don’t care about this conversation.” Make sure that the team knows the difference. If the Take it Offline dance is a replacement for eye rolling: you’re doing it wrong.
Let us know in the comments if you’ve introduced something similar in your scrum meetings to keep the conversation on track. Or, if you try the Take it Offline dance, we’d love to see a video of your variation.