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In defence of daily stand-ups

Javier Salcedo
Being able to create almost anything with what essentially is just an arbitrary arrangement of words is the closer I’ll get to real world magic, and that is why I love programming.
・2 min read

Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

I've seen lately a lot of hate towards dailies and I want to add my 2 cents on what I think is the real issue behind.

A common critique I've heard is that they are distractions and they are a waste of time.

Daily stand-ups, meetings that should last about 10 minutes, are a waste of time?
I think we have a hint on what can be going on here.

I've seen and heard of dailies that take too long. My personal record is attending one that lasted over an hour, but the average seems to be around 20-30 minutes.

No wonder people think like that!

But how did we get here?
Let's remember what a daily should be:

  • Less than 9 attendees
  • Each person speaks for ~1 minute, saying:
    • What did they do yesterday
    • What will they do today
    • If they need any help

The goal is to keep the individuals aware of the state and progress of the project and the rest of the team, and ask for / offer help if needed. Nothing more.

That wouldn't even take 15 min on the worst cases, so what happened?

In my opinion, we lost our way. And they became nothing more than an opportunity to brag about how smart we are, explaining in detail how we implemented that new tricky feature, or how we fixed that elusive bug. And the sad truth is no one cares.

Without seeing the code and the appropriate context and references, no one can follow a complex (and incomplete) explanation, and people just stop paying attention, simply waiting for their turn to do the same.

That way, when everybody leaves the meeting (bored to death), no one really knows what the rest are doing and they feel (rightly so) that they just lost a valuable part of their day with nothing in return.

Dailies are useful, Agile methodologies are useful.
But only if implemented properly (and if they're actually appropriate for the specific project).
They are mere tools. No one would complain that a screwdriver is a useless tool while holding it backwards (and/or trying to use it with a nail).
Alt Text

So let's go back to the basics, and Keep It Simple (Stupid).

Discussion (3)

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scottishross profile image
Ross Henderson

I agree. Stand ups are for the Dev team to inform each other with their progress. It's not for a Delivery Manager, tech lead or product owner to question and get updates, it's purely for the Dev team.

If you hate standups, you're doing them wrong imo.

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uclusion profile image
David Israel

Hi Javier,

For work reasons I would really like to understand better why you want to use a meeting for "The goal is to keep the individuals aware of the state and progress of the project and the rest of the team, and ask for / offer help if needed." instead of a tool.

If its just that a suitable tool has not so far been available then I'd like to confirm what the tool has to do. If there is a social component to the meeting that's important then I'd like to discuss whether a tool can help remove the status so the social aspect is better accomplished.

Thanks,
David

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sargalias profile image
Spyros Argalias

Agreed. I agree with your evaluation of the problem and the sentiment that daily standups are useful.

Imagine working for months in isolation and not having any clue what anyone else on your team is doing. Sounds much worse to me than a quick 10 minutes (when done right) every day.

And standups should be timeboxed (kept strictly within 15 minutes at all times). If a person is talking for too long, the scrum master (or anyone else) should mention "hey Bob, it looks like this needs further discussion. Why don't we take this offline with Bob and Alice afterwards".

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