Except for management, as standups are a simple way of keeping psychological pressure on developers and squeezing every last bit out of them.
I even saw once a developer on his last day throwing the speaker's token (a teddy bear) to the trash can LOL!
Everyone on the teams I worked on seemed to think that standups where useless, this showed clearly through the team body language and tone in those meetings.
Its an interruption on your work just when you just got started in the morning, now you have to stop and go to a meeting.
What people are working on is usually unrelated and of no interest to each other, and if you need help you ask it anyway on the spot, there is no need to wait for the next standup for that.
It's hard to come up with different things to say on the meetings, as there aren't many things that have changed since yesterday.
It was a meeting for ourselves, not for management. There were no status reports to management, no gantt charts, no percentage estimates of completion, etc. Just: here's what I'm doing/not doing.
Fast forward a decade or two and I've seen good and bad use of this meeting form. But I still think it's a good idea, it just requires discipline to stop people from hogging air space or veering off into tangents.
That's my understanding of what a standup is supposed to be, and it's what my experience of them has been. THIS is useful. It's in particular useful if you have devs on the team who tend to get kinda "wound around the axle" on problems rather than speak up or seek help.
There will always be devs who think any meeting is by definition a waste of time, and you can't make those people happy, but a true brief standup meeting as described here is SUPER useful.
(Daily's probably too much though.)
Personally, when I lead a team, I keep abreast of what people are working on and ask them if they need help, or tell one of the more suited senior guys to offer a hand if it's an area I can't easily help in.
I imagine the standup helps more when you're lead is a non-technical scrum master guy who doesn't have much of a personal relationship with the team.
On the latter point I typically buy my team members fancy coffees and the occasional lunch, and it's easy to get on with them if you care about their careers, so I've never needed a standup.
Either way, I'm not so sure the statement means much. The point of agile is to do what's helps, so if a standup is useful for the above reasons, it's entirly possible that another approach solves the same problem, negating the need for the standup.
But the key thing is that the daily standup is NOT a status report for management! That should not be its purpose! It is for the team members to sync with each other, not a daily report for task management.
The manager has plenty of other ways to gather status updates and feedback as you note.
Your tone is slightly rude considering you're essentially agreeing with me.
You'll need to note the entire thread for the context of my discussion. I was specifically saying a good tech lead and other senior engineers can help engineers get unstuck without actually necessitating a standup.
For me, standups are fine if the team actually want to do them and find them useful, but 9 times out of 10 they're enforced by someone non-technical and require the entire team listen to people drone on justifying what they did yesterday.
Personally, I find the assumption that I can't communicate with fellow engineers without such a thing pretty insulting, but do understand that some of us do struggle with this thing, so it's different strokes for different folks.
But yes, in XP, the 'customer' or 'product owner' would not attend a daily standup. The purpose of the meeting was for developers to sync and maintain velocity and social and work cohesion.
Meeting with customer/PM was something that happened at the end or start of iteration.
Frankly, once things scale beyond that, where you have large teams of people disinterested in what's happening beyond their choice of specialization -- "agile" starts to not be a good match anymore.
I think this is the key difference between teams that like stand-ups and teams that don't. In the teams I've worked in, our work was highly relevant to one another, so knowing daily where everyone was with their tasks is usually interesting to everyone.
My rule of thumb for assessing a team is based on two simple questions: 1. Do people in the team work towards the same goal? 2. Do people in the team depend on each other? If the response to both questions is positive then by all means, have standups. In other cases, have a good look at whether it makes sense to call them a team in the first place.
They're unrelated tasks because there are no dependencies between them, and there is absolutely no reason why I should have to sit through bob talking about his day.
Take ownership of the standup, don't just passively sit there and then complain afterwards what a waste of time it is.
And to clarify, I also find daily standups to be tedious and generally unhelpful. Once or twice a week seems to be the sweet spot (for me/my team).
There are of course many ways to run a productive team.
I find the team needs to be at most 6 people, otherwise you probably need to split the team for daily standups to work.
1. Everyone explicitly has the responsibility to say "this is going too deep, let's continue it outside of standup" when needed.
2. Having a timer visible that resets after each person's update. This makes it clear when one person's update is taking too long. We were able to get rid of the timer once we had the flow down.
Also, it's crucial that everyone on the team feels comfortable saying: "these standups aren't a good use of our time, let's make a change". That's how those techniques were introduced.
I've also worked at places where a 20 person standup took < 10 minutes and helpful b/c sometimes someone not on your team will know how to fix your blocker and just help you out afterwards.
I think as long as you have a standup czar or just post your updates to slack, then it's a super useful meeting. If it ever goes over 10 minutes then whoever is running it is just making everyone late for work.
Why does it depend on the size of your team? Teams involved in agile development (where they do the whole daily standup kerfuffle) are supposed to not get to 10+ people. That's like the third thing on the agile coach's slide.
Besides, why does it take a full-team standup to find out someone has expertise and ideas in an area that you didn't know about? Are the lead developers/managers sleeping at their desks? Guiding and bringing people together is one of the things they're paid for. They should know who's good at what, and steer the right people (or the right tasks) towards them. If they aren't doing their job, what the team needs is people who do, not one more thing that developers have to figure out on their own time.
As for brainstorming -- it shouldn't be unexpected in the first place. Not on a regular basis, anyway. If a developer needs that brainstorming session, they should have the means to make it happen, with only the interested people attending. If they need it, but don't know they need it -- especially common, and especially excusable for junior developers -- that's why we have lead developers and managers.
And meetings are not the only way to spread information! If a team has 10, 15 members or more and it's spreading information by word of mouth alone, whether 1:1 or in meetings, that's already a problem. At that point you should have things documented. New members should have an M that they can RTF and ask experienced team members about. If a team got to that size and the only way to spread information is in person, that's something they should remedy, not keep doing!
For a concrete example: if I track a performance problem down to a small part of an open-source piece of software, it isn't realistic for managers/lead developers to know if anyone on the team has experience with that piece of the software. But if I mention that in standup, it will immediately be clear if anyone has expertise that is valuable.
I've never seen a high performing team that didn't regularly have ad-hoc brainstorming sessions (i.e. you say what you are planning to do and someone says "have you considered this"). Like I said, there are many runs to run a productive team, but standup can be a good place to start that discussion.
Keeping track of people's skills and expertise is part of their job description. If they don't, how are they going to help them develop and steer their careers? Not knowing every single thing they've worked on is one thing, but knowing (as in your example) who is likely to have used that piece of software, or who has experience troubleshooting performance problems involving that piece of software's functionality, is definitely their responsibility.
> For a concrete example: if I track a performance problem down to a small part of an open-source piece of software, it isn't realistic for managers/lead developers to know if anyone on the team has experience with that piece of the software.
Certainly -- but that doesn't justify having a stand-up meeting every day. It's not realistic for managers/lead devs to know if anyone on the team experience with a particular piece of software, but it is realistic for them -- or for any developer, for that matter -- to be able to find that out without dragging everyone from their desks for half an hour or more.
In my experience, standup has almost no cost and is generally enjoyable - people typically like talking about what they are doing and getting thoughts/advice. But if your standups are "half an hour or more", they clearly don't have much in common with the standups I've done. I would propose that maybe the problem is your standups are poorly run, not that the concept itself is bad.
As for timing: if you have a 10- or 15-people team, allowing for even just two minutes per person -- which is barely enough to cover a non-trivial problem -- easily gets you to 20-30 minutes. It gets shorter if all updates are in the form of "no news is good news", but then the meeting could have just as easily been an email. It also gets shorter if the problems really are so trivial that fifteen people can describe all of them, and their solutions, in a couple of sentences, so that no one talks for more than 30 seconds -- but then are these problems really so big that you need to hold a meeting that everyone attends, every single day?
I don't think the concept itself is bad -- just that the arguments for efficiency aren't convincing when it comes to large teams. I doubt that you can really disseminate useful information in this format, and even if you could, there are way more efficient ways to do that.
Edit: If these meetings are held just to make sure all updates are given regularly, often, and in the open, with all the consequences this has (good ones, like everyone being on the same page, and bad ones, like opportunistic managers taking the chance to use this as a way to pressure their team), that's great, but let's be frank and admit it.
A real scottish standup is a few minutes -- 5 or 10 minutes. 15 max if there are lots of people and lots of things to cover.
How much useful stuff do you think a developer can fit in 20 seconds of speech -- which is about all they get if you want to fit a 15-people meeting in a ten-minute timeslot?
Once a team grows past a certain size, either you keep the discourse substantial -- and end up with 30-minute meetings -- or you cut everyone short, and end up with ten minutes of smiling and saying the right buzzwords.
1. What did you do yesterday?
2. What are you doing today?
3. Any blockers?
My company is blessedly stable, but for instance at my wife's employer, there are teams that have had 300% turnover in the two years she has been there.
I think this kind of endless short-term firefighting is part and parcel with the micromanagement that daily standups embody. When nobody actually has any experience, or built any trust over time, the whip lays on heavier to keep people in line and pulling in the same direction.
It really shouldn't be much cognitive load to listen to what other people are working on for 10 minutes. If it is, it might mean the standup is running at the wrong level of abstraction or perhaps you aren't really a team that has a shared goal.
> If it is, it might mean the standup is running at the wrong level of abstraction or perhaps you aren't really a team that has a shared goal.
Or maybe the problems other people are working on will take more than 10 minutes for any reasonable input.
 https://www.scrumguides.org/docs/scrumguide/v2017/2017-Scrum... - page 7
I will say, Scrum was really helpful for us, but only because we took "iterate on your process" seriously, and had a culture where teams could experiment with their process.
In the end we outgrew it, but Scrum helped us reach the point where we could do so.
Small teams are better, but not always possible. Agile is about having team mechanics that make your specific team more productive and changing them as your team changes.
The nature of the work probably also helped because tasks took a long time so on any given day only a handful of the people would have substantive updates.
I haven't ever felt this kind of pressure from management in my stand ups. We very rarely have anyone from management present anyway. The stand up exists for the benefit of the team, not management. It is not a status report for management.
I've been a bit of volunteer agile coaching in my area, and yeah, one example that always stuck with me was that the product managers and BAs just got renamed product owners, and they sat in every retro and attended every stand-up.
Funnily enough they were never available to the team during planning. They had important meetings on a Monday...
I tried to empathise to them that "stand-up and retro are solely for the team", but no dice. They still wanted that command and control.
If you need help or are block, you report that. Otherwise, no need for a "status update". It also helps that we do this in our eng-only channel, where no product/upper management are in, so only our team is privy to the information.
The one downside is that it can be a bit more difficult to get help on something highly important if everyone is tunnel-visioned. Luckily, we have a great engineering manager who helps orchestrate help in those situations or steps in personally if someone is blocked.
If that is the case, then why are you even in the same scrum team? What you have there is not a team by the sounds of it.
If you're still working on the same issue, then just say that. Keep the standup short. Of course this can also be a good time to notice a lack of progress; if you're spending days on an issue with little progress, are you stuck? Was the story badly defined? There could be very good reasons why it's taking longer, but again, the standup is a great time to notice these things and check if there's a way to help the issue along.
As others have said, when you're working on a team where there is significant interplay or varied, related experience, they're really useful. We work on an OS and have members of the team who happen to have experience using infra and tooling. There's no way you would necessarily know this without saying "Oh, I was struggling with this bit of stats collection infra" and somebody else says "Yeah, I worked on that on x project, y years ago. Let's chat after stand-up."
There are obviously other ways to seed this kind of thing, but brief stand-ups seem a good way of doing it.
The other thing that we tend to do is just say "Oh, I did x that doesn't really relate to the project yesterday, but that's not very interesting" and leave it at that.
If you can't find something to say for a minute about a day's worth of work then you probably need to be rethinking how you're spending your days.
Spot on. In many companies standup are used to put people on the spot and pressuring them to show progress and so on.
It's amazing how many people on HN don't realize that.
> if you need help you ask it anyway on the spot, there is no need to wait for the next standup for that.
I thought part of the reasoning for standups was to synchronize your interruptions, so instead of breaking people's flow throughout the day, you can line up all the cross-cutting concerns at the beginning of the day.
It sounds like you are not a team in the sense of a coherent body creating added value, but a line organization mandated agglomeration of talent under a specific manager.
When actually working together quick stand ups make sense, but for individual contributors they add very little added value.
However, the only way to know if the dailys are unnecessary or not, is not how they feel like, but what happens when you remove them.
All coordination work feels unproductive. But after a specific complexity is reached coordinated efforts of communication are the only way in which a large body of talent can function in a sensible way together.
While I would also like to do the daily status email, I see value in doing a synchronized standup. It helps planning for the day.
Not all people are great communicators and I’ve seen lots of developers spend days on tasks which should take 1 or 2 hours max. Standups highlight these issues, but you need to listen and go to these people in private to understand their problems. And you should absolutely take up people if they offer to help you.
I tend to bring pen and paper to remember what I wanted to say and to note when I here something that’s relevant to me.
He could not understand that "I had not trouble yesterday, and today I will keep going on my task" could be a useful update to the team. I mean, in general it isn't but when something unexpexcted happens you are supposed to say it, not something unique for every day. 90% of my dailies are basically: "I am still working on X, and its moving forward, continuing today".
Did the scrum master not feel able to intercede? Protect the process etc.
Why not join the meetup with afterwork drinks? That way you can really say what blocked you ánd talk about the things that you'd do in a standup...
That excludes certain segments of your workforce in ways that make HR sweat. Parents, alcoholics, people of faith... you've made attending the meetup more difficult.
Mandatory after work 'fun' can be highly controversial.
Not my experience, teams of that size I’ve been on do standup in 10-15 minutes.
I don't mean to imply this is a panacea. "Doing Agile right" is one thing, but business is about more than software development, and an engineering-led organization can of course ignore financial or marketing realities.
But there's an expertise-for-the-job phenom going here. Managing software development is a skill. It requires "navigating ambiguity," that favorite phrase of managers. It requires being able to expect and roll with punches, and chart a new course---every few minutes to every few months, depending on the context.
I suspect the best thing would be for boards to take a more active interest in their company's SD activities. Bring the CTO in, figure out the tech landscape the company is confronting. "Giving devs more power" is probably a no-sell, but "boards taking software seriously" might fly. And when you do that, you unavoidably become the devs who already have power.
I know, a digression, sorry. But it's just night-and-day, the diff between technical and non-technical management.
Are we talking adult employees here? :D Anyway, if I ever become employed, and will have to work on-site, I want the comfort token to be a stuffed baby gnu.
Exactly this... I couldn't care less what dev-no-3 is working on since its not impacting me and I could bet no one cared much what I said except the scrum-master.
A chance to briefly set out any blockers you anticipate for tomorrow/stuff you will need from other people.
But just as important; an end of day marker 'we're done - piss off home now - no working late'.
Early enough for the 6-3 worker might be well before the end of the day for a lot of others.
When I was a manager, I always found it to be far more effective to have team members apply psychological pressure to their peers, rather than apply pressure from the top down.
Standups are best avoided by managers. I never felt the need for yet another meeting. In fact, an excessive number meetings are one of the main reasons I got out of the management business.
It sounds like a bigger a problem then standups; if everyone feels they are useless why is there no forum in which this meeting is being discussed and removed or recalibrated? It sounds like the team doesn't own their own process or doesn't talk to each other about process
So true. At the last company I worked, the daily standups became absurd. We were forced to use a physical board which was always out of synch with GitHub and we were just repeating the same stuff that we already knew everything about.
Also, we had scrum retrospectives in which the new scrum master was throwing a yellow ball at someone when it was their turn to talk. WTF?! Does management think our brains stopped growing after the age of 5? You have a room filled with potentially brilliant engineers and you're treating them like toddlers. Do they seriously think that this is the right way to build a company which will make an impact on society?
What the hell is wrong with managers these days? Is there some kind of virus going around which is turning them into idiots or is there a global conspiracy to only promote idiots into positions of power?
Overal I don't think it's disruptive at all to do a short stand-up, constant nagging however is very disruptive. That person that just walks in or starts spamming you on slack takes more time altogether per instance than a single stand-up does. It takes you out of your process, you then have to pick that up again. If you're working on something complex that can mean it takes an additional 10 minutes before you're back on track. That's the kind of disruption stand-ups can help prevent.
This of course only works if you actually stick to what the stand-up is meant for.
If any issues come up, you can discuss them immediately after the standup.
Long meetings are terrible, but short meetings are great. That's the whole idea behind the standup. If a couple of minutes per day kills your velocity, as the article claims, I wonder what else you're doing during the rest of the day. It only has a measurable impact on your velocity if you're only a working an hour per day. And even then I'd guess it's useful to have a quick refresher about what you're working on.
>Standups are in my experience much more effective at signalling blocking issues than slack.
Your messaging tool is not good enough to communicate urgency? You cannot send a message and say "this is urgent" and have somebody read it and respond in a timely manner? You would have better luck waiting until the next standup meeting?
>Nobody is going to spend their day checking what other people are doing on Jira
Your primary work tracking tool is not good enough to allow people to see who is working on what, and what the status of that work is? You can't get an overview of what is being worked on? You can't check on a specific issue to see how far along it is?
Here's how it works when you use your tools:
1. You have an urgent issue. You message the involved parties. Your message should communicate the urgency of the issue. They read it and respond / take action within an appropriate amount of time.
2. You want to know what your team is working on. You look at your issue tracker to see what everyone is working on. If you are curious about the status of any work in particular, you look at the details for that work. If there is insufficient information about its progress, you send the assignee a message (see #1).
In my experience most people don’t regularly post summaries of their progress on their ticket. Even getting certain people to update their ticket descriptions at all (to add test instructions or to reflect that they decided to do something other than originally described) usually requires reminders.
This may depend on team culture but in my experience a lot of people just aren’t written communicators.
I don't like the sentiment that developers doing things out of their comfort zone (like using JIRA) is unreasonable. Just get over it and be a professional.
That said, it's on others to motivate the use of such tools. It's easier to get buy-in when everyone understands the value.
A five minute meeting is not five minutes out of your day. Any scheduled interruption takes at least thirty minutes, probably more like sixty, out of productive time, as a flat cost, over and above the actual time of the meeting. It's all the time that you don't start biting into something worth doing because you look at the clock, and say "Oh fuck, I've got this fucking standup meeting in 20 minutes - I can't even get started on this before that rolls around and interrupts me." And it it all the time afterwards where you have had a bunch of shit laid in your lap that you have to spend some time following up on and frigging around with before you can get back to the work you already had planned to do.
This is obviously stressful, and psychologically pressures you to try to finish the task ASAP the day before, so that you can come up to the meeting and just say its done.
Which is the real actual benefit of the standup, and why managers keep doing it, despite they are obviously not needed and in most cases a waste of time.
The standup keeps everyone on their heels and feeling like their every breath is monitored and accounted for.
Its the perception of yourself and your work from the eyes of the group that is at stake here, it's important and most people usually don't just improvise it.
Many times people have notes of what they want to say, which involves preparation, attention and energy put into it that would better be directed elsewhere.
It requires very little thought.
I've prepared for standup when I was new to a team, but it should pretty quickly get to the point where you don't need that. At least for my experiences, it's not like standup is a major factor in how teammates think of you - that comes from working together with people.
If your teams have so little trust in each other that you have to do all this preparation for a standup, then there are already much larger issues.
There's just no deep work that can be done during that time, and that's every day.
Count the whole overhead time, from the moment people stop working normally waiting for the meeting, till the moment people come back to their seats, add up the extra coffee pause that people take afterwards that people would not usually take.
You are looking on average, at easily 15 to 20 minutes per person minimum a day, probably more.
It's not just the time itself though, it's the interruption that prevents you from starting longer tasks effectively.
Can't really account for that, work is not only about summing up minutes on a time tracking tool. There is rythm, there is acceleration, there is a productive state and there is deceleration.
Standups disrupt all that without any real benefit, other than serving as a daily reminder that you better hurry up with what you are doing - which most people don't need.
> Standups are in my experience much more effective at signalling blocking issues than slack.
If you are using Slack, you have already lost the battle for productivity.
> If a couple of minutes per day kills your velocity, as the article claims, I wonder what else you're doing during the rest of the day.
Literally any interruption destroys your focus. A pending appointment destroys your focus. If you use Slack or E-Mail notifications, people never even attain focus, so in that sense it's not a loss.
> And even then I'd guess it's useful to have a quick refresher about what you're working on.
To a first approximation, nobody cares what you're working on. Nobody should care what you're working on. If your developers need to constantly communicate with each other, something is likely very wrong with the way you split up your work.
Daily standups pre-suppose that there's always stuff to communicate and that everyone is always involved, but only once a day and only briefly. This is complete nonsense. You need to be able to adapt to the situation. You need a meeting? Have a meeting with whoever is concerned. Have a follow-up meeting. Take your time and focus on the issue, then nobody will even feel like time is being wasted.
> "To a first approximation, nobody cares what you're working on. Nobody should care what you're working on."
I care quite a lot what the people in my team are working on. Otherwise why are we even a team?
If you're not in a team, obviously things are different.
> "If your developers need to constantly communicate with each other, something is likely very wrong with the way you split up your work."
It's the opposite: if developers are not communicating, they're probably not cooperating with each other, which means something is very wrong.
It's an argument for having meetings when you need them, with whoever you need them with, with no particular schedule or routine attached.
> I care quite a lot what the people in my team are working on.
Do you really? Or do you just want to signal that?
> Otherwise why are we even a team?
You are on a team because that's the unit of organization above the individual.
> It's the opposite: if developers are not communicating, they're probably not cooperating with each other, which means something is very wrong.
If developers need to cooperate, you have a problem that you should avoid at great cost. Of course, sometimes cooperation is unavoidable, but it's not a good thing in and of itself. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Aim to split up your work to require minimal cooperation. This may sound like unconventional advice, but anyone with enough experience managing developers will likely agree.
Phone calls and texts? Don't let your developers do them.
> To single out 'standup' as a particularly disruptive interruption may be exaggeration.
It isn't an exaggeration, because a standup is also a pending appointment and a mini-presentation. A lot of developer types actually get stressed out about this, no matter how small.
Similar thing with responding to an e-mail. It's insane how much time some people spend on just a one line reply.
Just minimize these things, don't make them part of your routine for routine's sake.
I do agree with it, because everywhere I've worked that does a daily standup does it wrong, and I think OA is more about those organisations.
For many old-fashioned companies, "doing agile" means waterfall + standups. Apparently that's all you need to reap that sweet agile-y goodness. The guy running the meeting doesn't enforce any structure, doesn't stop people rambling on for 10 minutes, doesn't try in any way to note or act on the points people raise. It's just about micro-management and cargo-cult development.
I'm sure with the right company a standup is a very useful tool. But wherever I've worked, it's been all about micro-management and a fundamental misunderstanding of what I actually need to do dev work (usually: a quiet office, no interruptions and time).
If you add up the time people have stopped working while waiting for the meeting, the time you take to gather people to a room, wait for the last one to arrive, start, go back, it's been 20 minutes total, and when standups derail and people start talking a lot it goes over half an hour.
You need to count the total overhead time. I mean come on, 10 minutes before the standup you are not really working full steam, right? You know you are about to have a meeting, so you are chatting with colleagues and checking email instead of working on your main tasks. That time should count too.
Some colleagues don't 'work' at all between getting to work and standup (opting for soft tasks like email).
Wasting 15 minutes for 5 people a day costs the company almost 6 man-weeks a year, or really a week per person. Providing that week as PTO/leave would probably result in tangible productivity improvements.
The comparison isn't between the benefits of a good standup and nothing, it's between a good standup and whatever productivity you lost by interrupting the entire team (same as any meeting). You need to make sure it's worth it.
A few elements that I think contribute to long standups:
* A very large team (I've been in a marged team of 14 people once...)
* Getting too much into technical details: don't do that; have your technical discussions after the standup with only the relevant people
* People sharing their opinion (frustration) about blocking issues and that developing into a discussion. Again, leave it until after the standup.
When standups drag on for too long, it's time for the scrum master to step in and get people to keep it short.
IMHO that would be okay, if not beneficial.
>and that developing into a discussion.
That not so much.
The PRs cover the “what did you do?” questions while getting eyeballs reviewing the work and for larger PRs we will schedule something. Keeps things moving well.
The inbound requests reviews keep us from having to have backlog estimating meetings as often since we are keeping up with it as they arrive.
If the time isn’t useful, find a way to make it useful.
Walks in? Yes. That should be discouraged always.
Spamming on Slack? If that is a problem, you're doing Slack wrong. It's an asynchronous method of communication. Don't be buried in it or feel the need to respond to every message as it comes in. Check it during natural breaks or stopping points.
If something actually is urgent and requires your immediate attention, then they can break the above rule and walk up to your desk (or call you if you're remote).
It seems most developers aren't even comfortable with the first bit, let alone escalating things. Instead, most people just seethe and complain privately to other colleagues, and nothing changes. At the very least, the team's manager should be brought in to do a better job of protecting the everyone's time, and you'd think that would be easy for a developer to do, because it outsources any sort of confrontation. But it still often doesn't happen, for whatever reason. (Of course, if it's the manager who is the offender here, you're probably screwed if the diplomatic method fails.)
This is my big problem with agile, scrum, and friends. It's like communism; it only works if you "do it correctly." Russia? China? Cuba? Yea, they didn't do it right, but if it's done right, it's really really great.
I have only ever read about agile and scrum being done correctly. Obviously, I'm just one person, and my experience is limited, but at every company have I ever worked at or consulted for, the practice of agile and scrum is very different than what I read about.
I have experienced the less than 10 minute standup maybe a dozen times ever. Not that there is usually much to talk about. "Yesterday I worked on on X. Today I will keep working on X."
But somehow enough people in one place just seems to create so much friction. There's always a tangent. A: "By the way, how long do you think until we finish X?" B: "I don't know. Kind of depends on Y and Z. I never did Y before." C: "Oh, I did Y before, it's easy, you'll have no difficulties" and on and on.
I can see two possibilities:
1) My experiences have been not been representative of the industry as a whole. On the whole, agile and scrum work well and are executed properly at most companies, but I've just had some bad luck.
2) My experiences are representative. In this case, agile/scrum is so difficult for the average company to pull off, that it's kind of a rare occurrence.
The fact that angst-ridden articles like this one are such a regular occurrence on HN kind of makes me suspect that it's #2, not #1.
I'm just an engineer, so project management is not my area of expertise, but my layman's opinion is that an actually good project management system should "fail gracefully," as it were. You shouldn't need a 1 in 1000 level PM to pull this stuff off.
Not a chance -- your experience mirrors mine over the course of the six or so companies that I've worked for. It's definitely #2.
They all fail in very similar ways: story points become hours/days; stand-ups devolve from status updates to daily team discussions; the backlog becomes irrelevant because new stories are created for each sprint; and, in companies which report velocity to senior management, story-point inflation.
Also, I've noticed that Agile transformations always create Agile zealots within the organization which seem to act to quell dissent. I'm not sure why this is, maybe the transformations are tied to bonuses or something, but it's a universal thing. There's always somebody running around telling you that you're team is Doing It Wrong when you bring up any legitimate criticisms of the process.
> It's like communism; it only works if you "do it correctly."
But your job as a developer is to not have this happen. It’s nothing something that would be a nice to have, you’re supposed to always keep your team informed about potential gaps. The standup is designed to catch gaps but really that should be something you should already be doing.
I have seen so many dysfunctional standup cultures: Places where you had to showcase and exaggerate how much stuff you had to do and people were looking at you funnily when you said what you are doing in under a minute, places where discussion that only interested a third of the team were started and standups took half an hour, places where the managers interrupted and asked why stories took so long...
When we were working to disambiguate deliverables or working on design or implementation, stand ups were useful. They held everyone accountable, when folks weren’t making progress because of some issue, it was super obvious - it gave management a really good insight into where things are and what blockers are.
Your characterization certainly doesn’t represent my experience. We went through phases of launching a products or services and focusing on them and then going back to pay off some of the tech debt until product management, engineers, and leadership arrived on the next set of big features.
"The panopticon is a type of institutional building and a system of control designed by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century...[It] allows all prisoners of an institution to be observed by a single security guard, without the inmates being able to tell whether they are being watched."
Learned a new word and concept today. Thanks!
1) Aim to take 2-3 tasks, do not take more, take 1 if the task is large, but usually, it's a sign of an overblown story.
2) Every day at the end of the day, write a "current status" comment. These comments are visible in the master panel, and I could take action the next day to help developers resolve roadblocks, if the resolution is taking longer, they can work on other tasks they claimed.
This effectively eliminated the need for standups, the whole team could sync using task "current status" updates, and chime in with help or advice. I was able to see the progress and issues without forcing people into a mess of a video call, and everybody could still stick to their preferred schedules and have personal lives.
Standups as intended are too brief to discuss the important details. This is why they end up ballooning to 30+ minutes at most companies, because anything shorter is of little value.
They also end up as a catch-all meeting for any topics that require the team's input; I dislike this because people are expected to provide input on the spot without really making any thoughtful considerations. If we want to have a discussion on a UI component, that should be done in a dedicated, prepared meeting, not at 8:30 in the morning when people are unprepared and said developer can take advantage of unpreparedness to obtain the consensus they want.
When I provide up-stream status reports, I like to have the developer's notes in front of me for a quick refresher. Plus, they serve as a good reminder on topics that need followup.
If you don't value those things then just be low key in your input, its literally 10 minutes of your day and has the potential to present an avoidable issue. To discard it as "management trash" is IMO a massive amount of disrespect toward your fellow team members. They can help and the stand-up opens opportunities for help. There's design work, review work, product management work, scheduling, triage, retrospectives. There's ample opportunities for efficiency gains in these areas during a stand-up outside of just writing code. If you think your job is just writing code then I can see how you might think they're useless but nobody's job is, we all work in teams.
Even if the meeting itself was instant it would take more than 10 minutes. You would have to stop whatever you're working on, even if you're in the middle of a valuable flow state. Then after the meeting you have to get back into whatever it was, which alone can take you more than 10 minutes depending on the depth of your work.
If that's not bad enough then what you talked about in the meeting can also linger. You'll think of problems others have had and it causes your mind to lose focus, now you have thoughts about your problem mixed with other problems. These meetings also tend to happen during the mornings, smack in the middle of the most productive hours of the day.
No, a daily standup takes much more time than 10 minutes.
FWIW, imagine how a greenhorn might feel working on a team with you. If you feel like giving them some time of your day is a waste or that listening to their problems is a waste they're not going to feel enthused working on your team. Sure, that doesn't necessarily influence your current work item but it might contribute to overwork later if they leave for a team that actually makes them feel like they matter.
One solution I found is to write a quick status in the chat and excuse myself from the stand up.
Sometimes I finish 20 minutes before the stand up and think about what to do next. I usually won’t go into deep work but plan something, write my todo list on paper or review some PR to make use of the amount of time that’s to small to get into flow.
Literally, it's not 10 minutes. Count the time that you have stopped working and people are chatting waiting for the meeting, checking their email when they would not otherwise do so, not working on their main tasks.
20 minutes to half an hour of time not usable for main tasks is a more typical estimate.
We have six people in the stand-up.
If you're so sad about being interrupted then maybe you're taking on too much work?
That is actually a good idea, but it's the first time I heard about it. In most companies, this is not done. Also, it's not just the literal time of the meeting.
It's the time people spend waiting for the meeting, chatting, reading email instead of working on their main task for the day.
It's about the interruption cost and the disruption of what you were doing, not about the literal cost in minutes.
Also, most developers don't have a saying in how much work is assigned to them. Usually, they are over assigned already and the cost of the standup is not accounted for in how long tasks should take.
Add all standups of a week, and you have half a morning of work per week down the drain. That's a lot and again that is literal total time only, and does not account for interruption cost.
In an ideal world everyone would be perfectly professional and not need any supervision at all. In the real world some times you might be in a rough period or have some other problem that makes concentrating hard. In an ideal world the thought of getting a paycheck would be enough motivation. Sometimes it isn't.
A daily standup, if done well and short, helps one to focus on what's important, sets the tone for the day, and unites the team as a tribe.
When one is not motivated enough by looking a big fat dashboard with tickets pending, or the though of getting another paycheck at the end of the period, one can be motivated by the thought of not failing to their tribe, their peers, their coworkers.
You gave them your word, face to face, that you would work on something, so you better do, they are your people.
That's the rub, though. Despite best intentions, sometimes things just go off into the weeds. It happens more often than I'd like, and it's happened on every team I've ever been on, at every company I've ever worked at. Sure, you can say, "well you're doing it wrong", but that's not helpful. Process should support how the team works, not define how the team works.
> helps one to focus on what's important
If you need to refocus someone every day, you've made a bad hire.
> sets the tone for the day
That's my job. I know what I'm supposed to be working on, and set my own tone.
> and unites the team as a tribe
Ugh, gross. We're not a "tribe", "family", whatever.
We're a team of co-workers working on a variety of tasks, who are not children and can be trusted to communicate adequately with the rest of the team, and honor our commitments. If you have someone on the team for whom that's not the case, again: you made a bad hire. Don't punish the rest of the team because you have someone who can't do their job.
I get that some people get off track sometimes. It happens, even to the most senior of people. The solution to that is called management. Regular 1:1s, making sure your team keeps their tickets updated, and getting regular (individual, asynchronous, as-needed) status updates. If someone is having an off day, or an off week, that should be addressed individually, not by preemptively assuming the worst of everyone on the team and instituting a daily standup.
True. Happens in every meeting. In which case anyone present can (and in my view) should get the meeting back on track.
“This is off topic”, “can you/we discuss this later”, “this has nothing to do with why we’re here for”.
Having strict time limits, a clear intent, and of course people enforcing it does make it possible.
>> and unites the team as a tribe
> Ugh, gross. We're not a "tribe", "family", whatever.
Agreed. This stuff makes me gag.
I absolutely agree that people can and should do that, but in practice, I often find that people don't. And I personally get tired of it; isn't it reasonable to take a dim view of a meeting where literally every time we have it, I (as an IC, whose job this should not be) have to prod people to stay on track?
> Ugh, gross. We're not a "tribe", "family", whatever.
To each his or her own
And, at it's face, it's simply false. Companies (and the teams within) are factually not families, or tribes, or anything of the sort. They are a group of people working together for economic gain. They share very little resemblance to families or tribes in real life, and I can't see making that comparison as anything but a plea for loyalty... loyalty that will never be returned by the company when it's not convenient.
If I were interviewing at a company and they tried to justify having a standup using this rationale, I would stop considering them, as would many (most?) developers I know.
If one is right, stand up do not matter. If one is wrong, they help greatly.
You say : why should I suffer for unprofessional and weak team member who is wrong?
But you forget to note that the same person could be right sometimes and doing great things and be utterly wrong and solving wrong problems some other times.
Edit: a also wanted to add, that input from peers and peer pressure is not to be underestimated. Management is be wrong as often as any of us.
No, I don't forget that, and in fact specifically addressed people having an off day, week, whatever.
We'll just have to disagree on that. In my ideal world, getting a paycheck would be a natural byproduct of doing something interesting, that matters, and about which one would care.
> We'll just have to disagree on that. In my ideal world, getting a paycheck would be a natural byproduct of doing something interesting, that matters, and about which one would care.
I agree with you. It was mostly to curtail the capitalist view of "a paycheck should be motivation enough."
If I was an employee, I would prefer you to let me self-manage my work however I feel comfortable using whatever tool suits me and my team, instead of constantly interrupting on Jira, Trello, etc. And I'll keep you updated at a frequency we agreed on (daily or weekly).
It's also great to read daily updates of others on the team, and even other teams, to learn about what they're working on without having to check at multiple places or interrupt their work. It's usually a great way to discuss, give and receive feedback, asynchronously.
Also, it's strange that you're suggesting "reach out on Slack" as an alternative. Doesn't that promote the "incessant messaging that Slack allows" you're decrying at the start of the article?
Disclaimer: I'm cofounder of the team communication tool https://www.happierco.com
This stuff is always highly context dependent and the ongoing efforts of everyone to pretend it isn't makes it extremely difficult to have adult conversations on the topic.
It has been proposed originally as an agile "let's do what makes sense for each case" practice, and as quickly been adopted by companies as a common micromanagement practice.
Yes its context-dependent, but at the same time, its something so pervasive that most developers can relate to it and have or will experience it one way or the other.
Exactly. If you work for a financial company where a manager has to check every analysis, then of course you need such meetings. I don't think efficient people spend all their time reading about how to be efficient.
Well I think standups, on average across all possible developer contexts, are useless.
To put another way, standups are likely to be useless regardless of context.
I've had in-person standups which regularly turn into design meetings between two people, which everyone else has to listen to for half an hour.
I've had 5 minute 9:30am daily standups which always start between 5 and 20 minutes late, thus are significantly disruptive. Arrive at 9, get a drink, try to pick up where I left off yesterday, oh it's time for the standup. Not yet? OK, where was I? Oh now? But Dan is on the phone? Alright, in 5 mins? ...First hour of the day down the toilet.
I've had standups where people are told off for trying to communicate any sort of useful information - so people just list the people they need to talk to that day.
And of course in a small company there might only be 8 developers, often working on 4 totally separate things for different clients, but there has to be a standup with everyone just because management can't figure out how to use Jira properly.
I've had enough of standups. I've switched to working afternoons only for my current client so I can avoid the bloody things.
Sometimes things go a bit too far, with people delving too deeply into whatever topic, with a sort of side-conversation starting. Yes, these people should "take it offline", and often after a minute or so of back and forth, they will, but it still happens often enough that it turns into a waste of most of the team's time. "Be more disciplined!", you say? Sure, ok, wave your magic wand and make that happen, please.
The counter-argument I usually hear to anyone who wants to get rid of standup goes something along the lines of: "but it's great to get everyone together once a day, and sometimes people will spontaneously learn of something that they have useful input for, and save someone some time". Ok, so you want to waste 10-20 minutes of my time on the off chance that someone might randomly have a useful contribution that wouldn't otherwise come up? No, pass.
And regardless, this sort of attitude is actively hostile toward remote members of the team, who may be in different time zones and can't reasonably participate.
If your team really needs daily status updates, create a "standup" channel for your team on Slack (or whatever you use), and have people do a once-a-day post in there. No deadline, just when they get to it. But even that just feels like micro-management.
that does not make sense. Just because you have a short sync meeting once a day, it does mean should should delay all work until then.
"Just because you have a short sync meeting once a day, it doesn't mean you should delay all work until then."
And yes, I totally agree! If you're blocked on something, you should raise it immediately, so you're not delaying all work until your next standup! If you do have other work to do, you should still raise the issue immediately, figure out who should own the blocker (if it's non-trivial, your manager will likely find ownership for you), and then move onto another task until the blocker is resolved. You gain nothing by waiting until the next day, and possibly exacerbate the problem if you do wait.
The problem doesn't come from standups, but rather from dysfunctional startup culture.
If I were to compile a list of workspace annoyances, even the most pointless standup would be way after serious business like "people standing behind my back while talking to someone".
My team don't do daily standups. They're pointless ceremony.
Yesterday I worked on… Yes we know. We can see the Trello card you worked on.
Today I am working on… Yes we know. We can see what you've currently assigned yourself on Trello.
I am blocked by… Why the hell are you waiting until now to bring this up?!
...because, as the author of the article notes, developers don't like interruptions.
You can't have it both ways - either you can have distraction-free work time so issues like blockers have to wait until the next scheduled communication time or you get distractions when important things happen. You can't reasonably state that people shouldn't interrupt you and they shouldn't wait until the next meeting to tell you stuff. Those things are opposed to each other.
You absolutely can, and we do it all the time.
You didn't interrupt me by replying to my comment here. If I was busy working on something, I wouldn't have read/replied to this right now.
If I am working on something, it's highly likely that I'll be finished and take a break to check what else is happening in the team well before a morning meeting the following day.
If something is truly time-critical and deserving of interruption, then its a moot point.
X and Y are completely unconnected and X is still bad and should be fixed.
Imagine if you went to the doctor with a fractured ankle and they said "well, it's not as bad as this baby I saw last week who was dying of sepsis. I suggest you count your blessings and deal with it"
And 6-figure salaries ? choose the value from the tail of the distribution to support your argument why don't you
I’m not nuts about standups, Slack or the multitude of distractions dressed up as productivity tools, but I understand their value as a means for helping distributed teams feel some sense of camaraderie, even if that’s not the original intent.
And that’s still not enough! Think of the value we return to an organization, and we’re only paid six figures.
Ya know, you’re allowed to fight for the absolute best working conditions as a worker.
You’re perspective reeks of some sort of corporate shill. Like I should just be happy to even have a job however shitty the working conditions. That perspective keeps developers underpaid and stressed out.
I guess I fundamentally don't understand the nature of your argument; your reasoning essentially prohibits anyone daring to voice concerns about prevailing practices, because it could always be worse?
I am pretty sure that this is the tech people who created this industry and all the jobs evolving around. Softwares are generating a lot of revenue but are incredibly used too.
They also tend to be longer than five minutes in terms of herding people to them etc.
If anything, by being at a fixed time, either at the start, or the end of a team’s day, it’s far easier to prevent a standup from disrupting deep work than a Slack message would be.
A slack message won't disrupt my deep work because I'll have notifications turned off, unless it's extremely urgent in which case it would be too urgent to leave until a standup anyway.
I have never been on a team of any more than 3 people where the standups have been as short as 5 minutes.
Some standups go off track, and if you count everything you are looking at close to a third of a morning per week or so.
As for going off track, you will need to learn to tell people (including yourself) to take a time out and discuss matters after the standup. If anyone says more than a sentence or two, and if there is more than a single counterquestion and a short answer, then that should be taken after the meeting.
They are useful for knowledge spreading and understanding what everyone is working on - we switch projects quite regularly so it’s quite nice to have a birds eye view of where each project is.
Next time you have a standup, look at the clock once you get up to the standup, or that you stop working normally and start looking around to see when people are leaving to the meeting. And then look at the clock when you are back at your seat working again.
People start getting ready to the standup 5 to 10 minutes before, chatting while waiting, etc. Count the time that you have stopped working normally, where you can't do any large task because you know there is a meeting in 10 minutes.
Don't just count the time literally from the moment a person starts giving their status to when the last person finishes, as the real overhead of the meeting is not that.
I guarantee you if you do that systematically and count the complete overhead and not just the literal overhead, that at best it will be typically 15 minutes and for longer sessions half an hour.
Here's a thing -- people rarely become friends over email or slack conversations, unfortunately. And a team of friendly people who trust each other and communicate efficiently (e.g. feel absolutely comfortable setting up a quick video conferencing call to talk about an issue) is a lot more valuable than a team of people who rarely talk to each other and mostly prefer texting over anything else.
Those are my findings when working with remote teams only. I don't think standups are necessary for colocated teams, which can sync at will anytime they want.
Some seniors don't even need a kanban board on a fast moving project, they just know what needs to be done now to create value at lowest cost, they just feel it.
It's not like when you're junior, you've never done any standup and you don't know when you've been blocked long enough to switch task or ask for support, you've never done any poker planning if you're techie, or value estimations if you're product / sales, you've never prioritized by complexity / value score if you're manager - or equivalent.
For this reason, I think there's still value in such rituals when there are non seniors in a team.
However, I prefer text-chat based standups myself and feel like they produce the same value and cost less time.
These are always the worst people to work with, because they think they know much more than they do.
Frankly the most difficult parts of effective engineering are nothing to do with software and all to do with good team communications.
But a senior knows basic needs for a product to live on like stable production, continuous integrations, unit/functional tests, code reviews, continuous deployment, infra & application monitoring, alerting, backups, service & dependency versions upgrades, fix regressions introduced by new features, with test ... and all sorts of quick wins for the product that come out of a casual discussion with a product / sales person etc ... The kind of usual things that becomes a daily routine and may just take the day to the point where you couldn't move any new feature card in the kanban anyway.
Is it necessary to create a kanban ticket every time they do a package update, fix an impediment or do something in 0day ? It can surely be useful, not sure if it's more useful than just reporting on a text based chat, can it be harmful by polluting the kanban with tickets that don't create any obvious value (tech debt treatment) ? as long as communication goes through it's fine with me unless someone wants to build a report at the end of the month (ie. billing), I believe the practice matters more than the tool.
But I'm more trying to understand the point of this article, searching for conditions that would validate it, rather than defend it in all case.
For me daily communication and the three questions are important (but I prefer async / text based, and even twice a day: when I check-in and check-out), for the rest it depends, I can understand why some seniors would feel like blindly applying procedures may seem un-necessary or harmful sometimes, like they say : it's the dose that makes a cure or a poison.
But I can also very much see us abandoning it once we are more up to speed with the others. Or maybe we just keep them extreamly short as I've seen some other suggest here.
EDIT also recalling personal experience: What about growth, where you want to grow the business and bring new (senior or otherwise) team members in, but everything is vested in the idiosyncracies of a few individuals?
> What did I work on yesterday?
> What am I working on today?
> What issues are blocking me?
At my job we have tickets on a physical board and we discuss them from right-to-left. There are magnets on the tickets with people's names on it and when you get to 'your' tickets you talk about what is happening with that ticket. This is a lot more concrete and relevant to the rest of the team.
At a previous company we went from person to person and they'd discuss what they were working on. This always struck me as a strictly personal accounting of their previous work day and I had a feeling that people felt like they had to boast or exaggerate what they were working on. It never felt relevant or interesting.
The infantilisation of developers seems to be common in larger organisations. It's extremely tiring.
The stupidity of terms like "tribes" and "squads", the endless gamification, the "open office to encourage communication", the discussion of "learnings" and other verbed nouns.
The only people that it suits are HR types that love that everyone can be seen to be working together and the management that save lots of money on real estate and infrastructure costs.
Sure, breaking down company silos is a Good Thing. Orienting people to work across disciplines and be focused on the customer is a Good Thing.
Inventing crap like standups (the Queen does them for Privy Council meetings, works for her), and titles like "scrum master" is just as bad as the "black belt 6 sigma" of the early 2000s and the other management fads.
But for the last few years, it has not been the case for me. Standups have been organized for managers and scrum masters so that they attend only 1 meeting and participants were not working on directly related topics. Most did not care about what others were doing and issues they faced. We reduced them to bi-weekly or 3 times a week and re-focused them on synchronization topics...
Also my general feeling (maybe because I am an old developer) is that it is infantilizing,
and a way to maintain peer pressure.
Skipping right past the part about "flag team blockers" in what they just quoted. I don't much care for the other nonsense, but sometimes I'm stuck on a problem, and I'll keep working on it if no one else knows, but it's nice to just broadcast where I'm at and see who thinks they have helpful insight. That happens a lot in my stand ups.
1 goal of scrum is to allow the team to function, to avoid having a single point of quarterbacking, and messages going up and down a chain of command.
Moreover, from a psychology perspective, the act of reaching out for help require significant humility and is often delayed.
As a lead, I've found it useful to be able to ask questions about updates, and, demonstrate "quarterbacking" by delegating myself or other to pair or split work off. Sometimes it's to ensure that there is better shared knowledge gained, sometimes it's to better parallelize work.
Not only that but it's a time where we feel safe to say that we are struggling on something and ask for help to everyone at once: this often leads to someone in the team (not necessarily the manager) suggesting a pair-programming session to move forward more quickly.
Another thing is that we have several products developed independently but with shared libraries. The standup is the moment where we suggest appropriate usages of the shared libraries depending on what our teammates are working on. This increases code re-use and makes us faster.
In addition, we have what we call "Sharing time" at the end of our standups, which is a time dedicated to sharing anything we care about, mostly non work related. It's actually cool to see what our colleagues are up to outside work (one colleague is into model planes and 3D printing, another is currently traveling across Portugal, etc, etc). Very interesting stuff !
Our daily standup is kind of like the coffee break in a traditional office.
As a manager or as a team, you need to determine what will work best for your team and you will need to adapt.
And the author says make it async, I agree! That’s not against the spirit of standups, I’ve worked on remote teams with an asynchronous standup slack channel.
The most common problem I’ve seen with standups is they can become more than status updates and end up a time during the day to brag about your accomplishments or justify your status within a team/project. Usually to keep management happy or angle for an agenda other than keeping the team together.
But as a leader you want to make sure the team is rowing the same direction - it doesn't matter if it takes you longer on a ticket but it also helps in a team to know what others are working on in case you end up working on it later yourself. (We discussed at standup to implement it X way because of Y factors).
Many engineers (myself included) don't like asking others for help. But guess what when someone says they are stuck - it is easy to point them to a person or direction and not waste time debugging a problem already solved in the past.
If they were so horrible and unproductive, managers (who mostly were engineers in the past would get rid of them).
I will say that only 2/3 times a week is the best bang for your buck, and often switching to "Slack-up" instead of "stand-up", when people are busy with other things or can't be bothered.
They're a good way to handle people who don't communicate well: if it looks like a junior is blocked on something and does not like to ask for help another dev can easily propose a pair-coding session.
But you need to only have devs or former devs so you don't get the feeling you get judged because your "what have I done last day" is "mainly nothing, this ticket is not exciting so I'm going slow".
But I chuckled a lot when seeing other teams/companies destroying the morale of their employees with this childish and borderline cult-like parade.
Given how badly many standups are run, I completely understand why most developers hate them.
In a nutshell, the article claims that these electronic tools render a daily standup pointless and/or disruptive.
First, note how many different tools are mentioned. If your project uses one or more of them, you'll need to monitor them all to understand what's happening around you.
Second, the constant interruptions of Slack can be extremely disruptive to workflow, as has been noted in a few articles posted here.
Third, the article makes an assumption I've seen elsewhere and cannot relate to at all: that project members don't need a high-level snapshot of the project on a day-to-day basis. That it doesn't improve what they do and only sucks time away from the more important job of getting stuff done. As the author puts it:
> I'd argue the loss of your focus more probable than the benefit of knowing what someone else is working on.
This is a recipe for the entire team heading off a waterfall, each in their own hermetically-sealed, technologically sublime barrels. This is not to say that a daily standup can save you if the team is determined to do it. But getting that daily overview can help build consensus for changes in direction that simply can't come about by monitoring Jira.
I always wonder how effective team members showing the tendency to minimize the bigger picture while maximizing the importance of their own contribution will be on a team. The answer usually turns out to be "not very."
While we use a formal issue tracker like Jira which handles approvals and estimates, from a project management perspective it's useful to have a summary email that is short enough for people to read and focused on business level issues.
"Today I worked on this" / "Next I plan to work on that."
This helps clients to see exactly what we are working on. It avoids miscommunication where we think they told us to prioritize something different, or they thought they told us to stop work on something, or they think we are finished with something and we are not. Having an email every day lets them tell us to stop work immediately if we are doing the wrong thing, avoiding surprise invoices the next month. It avoids them claiming that they didn't know that we were working on something.
"Here are the problems I am having / things I need from you".
This is very useful to keep track of delays caused by the client. This might be them needing to review and accept work, review specs, or pay their invoices. Issues stay on the report until they are resolved. It documents that we didn't get what we needed, so we can't be blamed for things being late.
Standups are supposed to take a few minutes and everyone becomes aware of what everyone is working on or blocked by. The person that controls the gate should become cognizant that its effecting someone else, and then it gets solved.
I love this.
I hate when standups are long winded. That removes the usefulness.
People dont need to interrupt the whole team and fish out who can help with the blockage, it just comes up and out. Thats the point anyway.
I use logs of standups and git commits to track dev progress.
I was fortunate to work with people that ran proper stand-ups (5-15 minutes at the beginning of the day, actually standing up). Senior, junior, management, devs, it felt like we all benefited from a quick huddle before starting dev. Even if we Slack troughout the day and raise issues, having a quick sync session seemed to have a bigger impact.
If you don't feel like that's the case, you're probably right in that going async would be a better use of your time. I suspect this is a process dysfunction that has less to do with standup and more to do with a misunderstanding of the value proposition associated with a properly executed standup.
Edit: not everything is an immediate "oh sh*t" type of blocker. If you're working in a collaborative organization, you most like have "low tier" blockers or knowledge that can and should be shared with the team. Face to face makes this easy.
But I think part of the issue here is the idea that time is fungible like money. That saving time by looking at Trello cards instead of meeting face to face is somehow more effective.
It might be. It might not be. But simply saving a few minutes of time doesn’t necessarily equate to “more productive.”
This kind of optimization of behavior assumes everyone will consume information uniformly.
Ever sent up a smoke signal for help on a blocker in slack, only for the comment to be lost in a bunch of messages and you stay blocked?
Again, in a perfect world, we could just record everything and do it all asynchronously. Wonderful ideal.
But the stand up, in my experience, accomplished more than just cold task management.
It gives a point for each person to consider what they’ve done, compose it, and to raise in a higher resolution environment the blockers they have.
It’s silly to think that we can replace every interaction with an async version of the same interaction, at least on my team.
At the same time, I don’t recommend dogma in either direction. Don’t find value in the standup? Do something different.
On the other hand, I've had friends who have endured 30 minute standups every day for the past few months. I think they started sitting after the first few sessions.
Our dev sub-group had no sync-meeting except weekly-meetings where we met the entire department that presented their progress that didn't give us any insight in what was going on at all. Didn't help that our sub-group responsible where the CTO, that was mostly absent for investor/customer/management meetings. Tasks where distributed really unevenly, some devs got isolated in their module/tasks for week/months and lost sight of where the development was at the moment.
standups seems to work pretty well when the person in charge have insight in to how each members work fit in to the overall picture, and would rather not manage the group much more than making sure people are not trailing off. It helps the group more than the managers, if done right.
A lot of times, there are plenty who simply don't talk about the projects they are working on unless prompted. This extends even to JIRA tickets, which can feel like bookkeeping than actual work. For me, this tends to be a constant problem, but adding more layers of protocol tends to scare people more than anything. This can be like a fear around saying you couldn't get anything done yesterday.
With simple conversations where I can just talk with team members for an hour or so is more revealing that trying to answer specific questions. The important thing is not to cover each detail. Instead, for me, is just conversing about problems where we all gain more insight in what we are doing that helps a lot.
I'd go further to say that if your standups consist merely of parroting words verbatim from JIRA, you're letting your team down by not providing additional detail and context that could be provided more easily in person than on such a tool.
Lastly, reading between the lines of your text, you seem very much "over it". Not standups, but team engineering. Possibly time to find a new environment better suited to what you enjoy.
The problem is that as a manager I don't want to look bad in front of my manager and he he/her manager's and so on and so forth, so I have to do things that are suboptimal from a delivery point of view to avoid this, e.g. run a stand up to keep a close eye on what everybody is working on rather than say not and ensure that they guys (and gals) know that I'm here to help should they get stuck.
To be fair, they do help with managing people that are, for whatever reason, reluctant to look for help, but there are other ways of managing this
Have your grunts obeyed their leader?
Do work as a team of humans. Talk directly to your fellow team members. Using daily standups is a face-to-face way of syncing.
Don't work by sitting 10 hours in front of your screen and communicate only via chat channels.
It happened underneath the department manager in the line organization of a large corporate (not project manager, line manager). He managed about a dozen people doing about a dozen projects at any one time. A project was usually staffed by one person working it fulltime, and drawing support from the rest of the group here and there.
The manager held a daily standup involving the whole dozen people. With everybody doing a five-minute status report on their project, that meant five minutes of speaking time for everybody and 55 minutes of sitting through status reports on projects that you had zero involvement with, where you couldn't possibly have anything useful to say. I suggested numerous times that it would be better to have devs have a 1-hour blocker in their calendar without an actual meeting. They would do an e-mail update, and if the manager saw the need for any clarification he could use the 1-hour timeslot to turn up at their desk and talk 1-on-1. It would have been so much more efficient, but the manager didn't go for the suggestion.
Paying lip service to the scrum quasi religion, the manager repeatedly emphasized that the point of the standup was not to check on people's productivity or make them face repercussions for not meeting daily commitments. But he never missed an opportunity to make a passive-aggressive joke when a dev's productivity was called into question. Like a dev might say "I thought I would be able to do X yesterday, but didn't manage, because problem Y turned up. I solved Y, but X is still not done". The manager might jokingly say something like "Well, I hope you enjoyed your beachtime and will be able to finish X today." So not funny. I'm thoroughly convinced that shaming people was the method he was using to pressure people into doing overtime or otherwise doing whatever was necessary to meet daily goals every day, and that that was the real reason he wanted the whole department in the room. Because shaming is so much more effective when you shame somebody in front of a lot of people than just making a bad joke in a 1-on-1 situation.
Standups should not be used as tack-on "agile" or as a way for management to keep up with what devs are doing or to pressure devs to do more. Ex: daily standup at 11 am.
The original purpose of standups in "agile" was to help devs get unblocked. But the expectation should be that others should help devs get unblocked whenever they hit a block, instead of waiting til the next standup! What are they wasting time being blocked when they can simply send an email or IM to a colleague?
1. What are you working on?
2. Are you having any blockers?
3. What are you going to work on next?
In reality it's just about blockers and seeing the next direction.
No need to embellish or 'stuff' any of these responses. It was kind of natural when we used to have a real storyboard, the one with post-it stickies. So the standup would be a good time to move the stories to done or todo side.
Well, the whole idea kind of sputters when there're significant status disbalances on the team. For one, the dev members get into status-report mode, while the managers get into i'm-busy-with-important-meetings mode. For the other, it's harder for mangement members of a team to align their ways of staying busy with 'ant-like' activity of devs. Also in such context a 'blocker' suddenly signals a kind of a failure, lack of efficiency that has to be owned, instead of a usual work issue. Who wants to own a failure?Ironically, the management can be instrumental in resolving intra-dept blockers.
Any team is about mutual trust, so if the standup does not serve the needs of the whole team, I'd just reserve that time to those members that see a benefit from it. Find another way to interface with other members (mgmt?), maybe a questions queue or some briefs pipeline.
I've been on both sides of them: to give information to managers and to get information from people I delegated.
Stand-ups tend to turn into a defensive justification for 'being busy', and distracts from the intended purpose of asking for help.
At my current job, our manager wastes more time interrupting people during their stand-ups to tell them that they are giving the wrong amount of info "that nobody else cares about", instead of listening or helping.
At my previous job, it was used as a way to get people in the office at a certain time.
Your peers don't care about what you're working on, they care about sounding busy.
This is horrific. It looks like you don't have a team which is self regulating, autonomous and where team members support each other. You've got a military style command and control structure where subordinates report to their commanding officer/manager. It is everyone for themselves.
You've got far bigger problems than stand ups. There is no trust and people are treated like children.
Some individuals are trusted* while most are not trusted at all.
* Ts and Cs apply
It'll be hard to start a revolution while still using the enemy's terminology.
Gods, I'm miss PMI, critical path, the trilemma (time, cost, scope), quality, rationality.
And before any ankle biters whinge about "water fall", just stop. We were so much more iterative, nimble back when we acted like professionals.
The Agile Methodology is to argue about the Agile Methodology. Pop-biz psychology. Tech's own post-modernist rejection of anything older than a week. And just as useful.