A bold statement, I know.
But get this, in the many teams and projects I’ve been on, the progression of realization always goes like this:
Standup is at 9.00am –> People can’t seem to get here on time for standup. It’s important, let’s all be more responsible –> (People still roll in right before standup) Why can’t people make it to standup on time? (And by on time we don’t mean running in right when it is happening) Should we change the time? What can we do? –> Standup is now at 9.30am –> (People still roll in right before standup) –> Standup is taking too long. We should keep our updates to only things that are relevant to the larger audience –> Now that we have the team split into functional teams, why don’t we have separate standups? –> (What people say at standup is still useless and irrelevant even in a smaller setting) –> Back to Square One.
The original manifesto of standups has been to follow 3 questions:
- What did I accomplish yesterday?
- What will I do today?
- What obstacles are impeding my progress?
This might seem like reasonable and fairly relevant things to say. But as smart as we think we humans are, we really aren’t. And we trick ourselves into think that although this process has done good things for us thus far, it will continue doing the same. The main goal of standup is to disseminate important information amongst team members so they they know what the goals of each day should be. If we spend the first 15-30 minutes of the day rambling, what is the point of it?
Here’s a radical thought? What if we didn’t have standups? That would require people to talk to each other frequently, maybe also sit next to each other, and be more collaborative. It’s definitely harder in a larger team setting (i.e. > 10-15 people) but we should always reevaluate process when it ceases to benefit us and requires a lot of time and effort to upkeep.
– Edited Mar 10th 2013, 10.52pm
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that standups are entirely useless, but that if utilized in the right way it could be useful, but if it isn’t working out we should think about what other things we can do instead of following process for the sake of it.