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Standup Antipatterns (medium.com)
66 points by ylhert on Aug 12, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 30 comments



My team ditched the standups, and now we just post our stuff in a slack channel: - What we're working on (jira ticket numbers, titles) - Yesterday's unplanned work - Blockers

It's wonderful. I worked on teams with standups for years, and they were utterly mind-numbing and worthless unless you're collaborating with someone, in which case they're just redundant.


My team has been using jell[1] for posting slack standup messages for the last several months. It's a bit odd since we've continued our normal standup tradition and still pay the small interruption cost.

However, it's made our standups much faster (5-7mins) because everyone has put into words yesterday's work, today's work, and their blockers. I know there's an argument to switching over to text-based async updates entirely - why do things twice, right? But even so it's an improvement over the traditional standup where most of the content is ad-libbed and can tend toward rambling.

[1] - http://jell.com - no affiliation, just like how it works.


Have you tried WorkingOn? https://www.workingon.co/

If you post into Slack, this will compile everything into a daily email. We used it for a bit but then people got lazy about posting or completely forgot about it. It may work for you team.


We're using https://geekbot.io at Goldbely to organize this.

Handy to have the Slack bot remind us in the morning so no one forgets.


I'd love to hear more about this. You should write up your experiences!


Sounds like a bad standup.

We're a remote team so it's important for us to communicate in person everyday in a more intimate way than just Slack, which is why we do it. It also helps me get a really loose gauge (audibly) how everyone is doing mentally (aside from one on ones) because I can't be there in person. You can hear/see frustration 1000x faster than you can read it in text.

We set the ground rules early on what would be in our standup:

- No longer that 10 minutes

- If you can't be there just let the team know ahead of time, no penalties for absence

- Specialists only call in once a week

- Talk about what you are working on that day even if it's just "Still debugging image sequencing"

- Ask for one-on-ones with other teammates to deep dive, don't do it at standup

It's really been effective at keeping the team moving in the same direction, because even minor audible/visual communication keeps the ship on course better than text.


I've been working remotely for many years, and I second everything here.

Standups are presumably less important if everyone works in the same place, but for remote people it's very useful, and I believe it also helps with feeling part of the team, i.e. you have those few minutes of chit chat, hearing each other talk or seeing some faces. It's good for the team's mental/moral health.


Another antipattern, not specific to standups: everyone sitting around absorbed in their laptops not paying attention to anything until their turn comes around. (Another reason to actually stand during standups, I suppose.)

Another mentioned in this thread -- if you have distinct groups within a team who are working on mostly separate projects, don't combine their standups. Otherwise, you just encourage half of the attendees to tune out (exacerbating the situation above.)


Great article, I like the bit about

"Many organizations misuse the daily standup in order to accomplish ulterior motives. A big one that comes to mind is having a ‘start time’ for the work day."

My thoughts exactly. This to me indicates poor management style and a control mechanism for insecure tech managers. It's been a great way for me to quickly avoid joining terrible teams that use weird metrics to measure performance.

Why is there so much resistance to common sense approach to knowledge sharing? I always feel much resistance from the force in the move away from 9am stand-up.


At my last job, the 10:30am daily standup was very clearly intended to enforce the start time of the work day. Further, the company provided both lunch and dinner every day, and we were expected to be there for both, every day.

Needless to say, the founders of this company were previously finance guys (the startup itself had nothing to do with finance. honestly it didn't even really have a business plan other than raise VC money and improve vanity metrics to raise more VC money) and were very fond of the ass-in-chair metric of employee productivity.

I could write pages about all the things that were wrong with the culture at my last place of employment, but I won't. I do owe that job for actually plugging me into the network of startups and tech in NYC, so while it was a shitty 2 years, it was worth it (especially since I now know which companies and management styles to avoid).

I am very happy to have moved on from there to my current job, where the only metric that matters is the get-shit-done-whenever-wherever-however metric.


Yeah, I don't know. I work on a team where there are 1 or 2 people who can't ever be gotten ahold of because they're never in the office during normal hours. Our stand-up starts at 11:50AM, and they can't get to it on time. We have some people who commute from far away and leave earlier than standard to avoid traffic and be able to spend time with family. There has to be some time where they can find each other and talk. What's the solution? IF we can't all be there for at least 1 hour a day, how can we reasonably interact? I'm all for flexible schedules, but "come in and leave whenever you like" doesn't work in reality. People sometimes need to interact live with each other, even if it's via chat.


Maybe we need a standup-twitter where you have your 140 characters worth of input, and if you realize you need more than 140 characters then your standup should be "Severely blocked by X, need help from Y on how to move forward" (~70 characters)


Worst is when a problem comes up and ppl dive right into trying to figure out a solution right there and then.


I lol'd at how true this is. And working on a team with multiple sub-groups means that only 2 or 3 out of the 8 person team knows the problem intimately, and it just becomes a problem-solving colloquium right there at standup until someone eventually says, "ok save that for after standup".


I was on a team with tedious, competitive standups. It was horrible and I dreaded it every day. If I kept my contribution to about 1 minute (as it is supposed to be), I would be interrogated. Oh the memories.


To me worst participants are folks who like hearing themselves talk. Most people finish their part in 30 seconds and then you have people who give a 10 minute monologue.


In those cases where is the Scrum Master to cut/drive this? (Let's take it offline has been told to me more than once, being one of those people that tend to rant without realizing)


I have been scrum master and even if you cut them off it's still disruptive. You need to listen for a while to see if anything relevant is transmitted or not. So you end up with the pattern "1 minute irrelevant blabla/ Let's take this offline". It's still annoying to other participants and destroys the rhythm of the meeting.


A daily meeting where you force everyone to be in the office, and interrupt their work with irrelevant status updates that have to be too short to communicate anything useful is itself an anti-pattern.

I have never seen them be useful. Not once. And people are addicted to them, always for "management ulterior motives". Once had someone say "we need to make sure people are actually working".

Personally, I would like to make it a requirement of my next job search that if the company does a standup, I'm not taking their offer.


>Personally, I would like to make it a requirement of my next job search that if the company does a standup, I'm not taking their offer.

I think that's a bit extreme. My current team has a standup that is quite useful. It's a few minutes, and we often end up canceling other meetings as a result of it. Standup, like any other meeting, is not evil by itself. But I would have agreed with you one year ago when I'd only been in Evil Standup.


An alternative would be to stay for one of the teams standup. Or maybe in the interview I can ask "How long is your average standup? Do people have to stand up for it?"

TBH, if you won't let me sit down for a standup (Even 10 minutes) then I'm not working there. Even if its a 10 minute standup, I'm only talking for 1 minute. Having to stand for 9 while other people say irrelevant things (in my experience) is just jerk behavior.

Now, I'm sure they are wonderful at your company. But it's like religion. YOU may love your christian god, but I don't get it, and Its never worked for me. Fine for you... but a problem when people say that everyone should be doing it, and if it isn't working then you're doing it wrong.


I don't think I've ever been in a situation where a daily standup adds value if everybody is not working on the same thing and not focused on the same project/codebase.


I like the idea of an 11:50 standup. It gives people an obvious incentive to stop talking.


Is this really so popular? I kind of thought these stand-ups are something out of the books on management, that is never used in reality by people who do the actual work.

Seriously, I don't see why my team would need this. We just have an IM-chat, if you want to notify others on the team about the problem we have — here you go. If there is something a bit less open for discussion and involvind a greater number of people — write an email. Besides that, if you are working in the same office at the same time and need a discussion — why not just speak of a problem, when it arises?


In startups they are pretty common. They've been in place at every job/company I've been at (~9 companies)


There's a fair amount of hostility to standups here. I'm surprised. At my current job we didn't have standups, so I made a slack channel and just posted what I was working on for the day in there. I find it useful to have as a specific driver for myself - regardless of what other folks are doing. I think the idea of condensing the current tasks into a few sentences and saying _that_ is what I'm doing is valuable, both to myself and any others who are on the same team.


Anyone care to explain what a 'standup' is for those of us (lucky enough?) to not have heard the term outside of the context of a comedy club?


It's when the people stealing the precious moments of your life, take five or sixty minutes out of their busy schedule of not actually working (see: meetings), and dunk your head in the baptismal toilet of despair, and force you at knife point to pledge undying fealty to your own enslavement.

Then they make you recite the tickets you have worked on, are working on, and shall work on, in reverse chronological order, with an alphabetical sub-sort, and then clap and praise Martin Fowler, after exclaiming each ticket number.

Then, while you're waiting on the other drones to complete their turn, you stick a finger in your nose, and a finger up your butt, and each time a worker drone finishes their roll call, you switch.


part of agile methodologies is the idea that instead of having long weekly meetings you just have some short daily stand-up meetings, in which team members expose what they are working on, what problems they have, and what they need to proceed, if something needs deep discussion it's not fully solved there, but it can be brought up.

The "stand up" part is motivated by the idea that the attendees do the meeting while standing instead of sitting around a table, which implicitly should lead to short and focused meetings


I do standups twice a week. Though it is a violation of true agile principles, it's pretty tolerable.




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