loading...

We are all standing up. Does it actually work?

jmfayard profile image Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄ ・1 min read

The daily Stand Up has spread quickly to become a cornerstone of our programming lives. Yet, here is a simple question I don't have an answer for:

Does it actually work well?

When it fails, is it because we don't follow the Scrum processes correctly? Or did you made it better by tinkering with it? Do we exchange there the right information? Are people actually listening? Or preparing their own intervention and sometimes stressed, trying to remember what they did yesterday? Doesn't it feel often awkward? Are there alternatives worth trying out? Is it standup or stand-up or stand up? Should jokes be allowed?

Let's discuss it after the stand up.

Discussion

markdown guide
 

We recently modified our standup to shift from what work are you doing to what are you blocked, challenged, curious, or excited about; we get more visibility into problems and what's interesting than we did before.

 

This is the way to do it in my experience. Prioritizing talking about what's going well/not well over the general uninformative 'what are you working on' leads to much more productive and helpful conversations.

 

Experiment. Try using a conch. If you're unfamiliar with Lord of the Flies, get a physical object that you can pass around easily. Only the person holding that can speak. If the problem persists, make the object slightly heavier to the point where it's fine to hold, but gets heavier the longer they talk.

Now, for the scrum flavor, bring it up in the retrospective meeting and take the teams pulse on how to make it more efficient and worth their time. Get feedback. Try some suggestions out. Then discuss it in the next retrospective. The bottom line, not everything is a one size fits all solution and it's best to experiment until you find the best one.

 

The thing I like about the stand up is that it keeps me focused - forces me to prioritize what i'm working on that day, and reflect on what i did the day before. I find this more helpful personally though and don't need to udpate the rest of the team to find it valuable.

The part that is valuable with teammates is mentioning roadblocks or things that I need help moving forward with.

 

As a team lead, standup i find it super important. It gives me early warnings on tasks that might end up being problematic so they can handled.

As a regular member of teams I always found it a reasonable place to raise an issue that needed focus from all the team, or to get insight in potential tecknical conflicts, ask for help etc.

Those 5-10 minutes are always well spend IMHO, it is the cheapest of insurances, relative to the days of progress that can be lost otherwise.

 

Our daily stand ups have gone into the routine of repeating yourself. We do it out pure habit, it’s peak matter over substance. I haven’t found them useful for quite some time. Maybe we need to make a shift like @rozerosie suggests

 

"When it fails, is it because we don't follow the Scrum processes correctly? "

That depends on how tightly one is following what ever development paradigm is being used for development. Waterfall standups may have fewer dependency interactions as compared to fine grained tasked out agile projects with each unit of change tasked out to the hour. It's as much because the team is forced to use the wrong development paradigm for the type of development being done as making sure that the particular process is followed correctly.

Doesn't matter who you are ...you can't do original R&D using an agile process...it would murder creativity.

"Or did you made it better by tinkering with it?"

Again, if you are using the wrong paradigm for the type of Engineering being done no amount of tinkering other than throwing the current one out and adopting the right one...will make things better.

"Are people actually listening? Or preparing their own intervention and sometimes stressed, trying to remember what they did yesterday?"

This can be a problem...but I think can be eliminated by judicious usage of JIRA and similar code management tools and enforcing a daily pre stand up requirement of reading the comments of other team members JIRA's AHEAD of the stand up...this will allow issues to be seen, identified and even fixed before the stand up begins, reduces total time and allows Engineers to get back to work instead of talking about it.

" Should jokes be allowed?"

If you aren't comfortable enough with your team members from the lead/director to the product/project manager to the biz/dev rep to the QA folks then your team is only partially effective. Levity is a great lubricant for relaxation that gets people to opine any blockers they may be facing...if you find you can't tell a joke during a stand up...maybe that team is a bit to stodgy for your personality.

 

Don’t worry about Scrum, it doesnβ€˜t have anything to do with stand-up.
In our projects we are sitting down and going through the current sprint-stories and everybody gets an update about the current sprint-state. I prefer this approach over standing in a circle and everybody saying something just to say something.

 

The whole ritual ought to be totally abandoned.

Consider the hidden costs:

Developers need long stretches of uninterrupted time to get work done. Meetings, no matter how short, are an interruption. And interruptions are extremely costly to productivity.

The timing of any daily standup is almost never ideal for a healthy fraction of your team. A typical time is 10am. That's too late in the day for early birds, who were already awake and productive by sunrise and too early in the morning for night owls who are up until 4am deep in coding flow and prefer to sleep 'til noon. Thus, a daily standup is either interrupting someone's flow, or it's compromising someone's sleep (even worse).

This is why meetings should only be conducted as a last resort, not a daily ritual. People can communicate their status in the GitLab/GitHub/whatever issues that are assigned to them. If more detail is desired, ping that person for more information, or ask to meet with them if necessary. Don't be afraid to push back against the toxic rituals of Agile/Scrum in your workplace. It's time for a 21st century successor to Agile/Scrum.

 

Purpose of Stand up is to track if we are on track with work we committed or if there any impediments or there is risk of missing deadline early. As long as we get all this information we are on track.

Mostly standups are not useful when we get into issue details during that time. It's purpose is to highlight the issue. Discussion should be done later, may be whole team is not required for that. That depends how smart the scrum master and product owner acts.

 

I would just like to say, it's not a requirement to have physical stand up. It's not "default". I actually never worked in a team that does regular daily standups. Use tools that feel right for your team at given time :).

 

The only useful part of the stand up at my current company is coordinating work between developers for a given day. The backlog should be the source of truth for project or task status.