Yes, this title is deliberately click-bait :)

If you only have time to read one article, read this by PandaStrike instead, it’s much better than mine!

The article above contains some very valid criticisms of the Scrum methodology. It inspired me to share my thought on stand-ups with you, unfortunate readers.

I feel like we often have daily stand-ups “because Agile”, without really thinking about whether they are adding any value.

Do any of these sound familiar?

The stand-up is not for finding out what people are working on

If the daily stand-up is the only way for you to find out what other people in the team are working on, you’re probably not using the right tools.

If you’re a distributed team, you should be able to see what’s being worked on using your online project tracker tool. If you work in the same office, just talk to each other.

Spending 20 minutes listening to other developers say “Today I’ll carry on working on the change password feature” is not a productive thing to do first thing in the morning.

The stand-up is not ‘yesterday, today, blockers’

This is controversial I know, but I really don’t like this format for a stand-up.

Standing in a circle whilst everybody recites the same thing one after another isn’t helpful.

This kind of format just makes people go through the motions, waiting for their turn to speak. While other people are talking, I’m thinking “What did I do yesterday again?”.

When you take this approach, everybody feels they need to account for their time in front of their peers. Each person’s turn inevitably turns into a spoken diary entry; “I had a meeting at 10, then I fixed that bug with Internet Explorer, then I started looking in to the database schema for a couple of hours..”.

I’m terrible at remembering what I did yesteray in that much detail, so it gets to the point where I have to come to the stand-up with notes to remind me of all the little things I got up to yesterday, and when. Is itemising every minute of their day in diary form really what you want your team to be spending their time on?

The stand-up is not a demo

There’s no reason not to have a version of the project that is updated daily (or, even better, on every commit) hosted somewhere that everybody in the team can get to. The stakeholders, project managers and anybody with an interest in the project can check this out at their leisure.

If you need demonstrations to explain how features work to a stakeholder, or a review by the other members of the team, hold impromptu meetings or schedule it. The morning stand-up is not the time for this.

The stand-up is not for holding developers accountable for their estimates

The stand-up should not feel like the Spanish inquisition for developers. If a task has run over estimate (if you are insisting on estimates), the correct question is “Is there anything we can do to help out?”, not “Why has this task taken 3 hours longer than you said it would”.

This kind of implied pressure causes people to cut corners, or elongate future estimates, so they don’t have to suffer this kind of questioning in tomorrow’s stand-up. Your developers are doing their best.

The stand-up is not for detailed user story analysis

If you are about to start a new task, and need clarification on the finer details of it, don’t make everybody else wait while you discuss it.

By all means raise it, and arrange to talk about it in detail with the people involved afterwards, but it’s not productive for everybody else to sit and listen if they don’t need to know about it.

Why bother then?

The stand-up is there to help the team move more efficiently through the project.

That means, as a developer, I want to know:

Let me know on Twitter whether you agree with me, or think i’m missing the point entirely!