Why you should probably drop your daily stand-ups

If you’ve ever been in a Scrum team, you know the drill. Every day starts with a 15-minute meeting where people give vague answers to those three questions. Like so many of the Scrum ceremonies, daily sessions sound like a good idea. They foster communication across the team and give people a clear idea of where they are going.

The reality is different. Do you recognize any of these symptoms?

  • The same person has to ask the team members to join the stand-up. Every day.
  • Most people will answer briefly. That one guy will start a monologue.
  • Most team members have difficulty remembering what they did yesterday and will joke about that.
  • Whenever a deeper discussion breaks out, somebody will suggest to move it to another meeting, since we only have 2 minutes per person.
  • When the PM/Scrum Master is out of office, so are the stand-ups.

In most Scrum teams I’ve seen, stand-up was just a mindless routine. Why is that?

Let’s get the most obvious thing out of the way. Yes, Scrum calls them ceremonies, but that’s just French for meetings. Were you in the zone? Too bad: it’s 9 o’clock. Better go wait in a half circle for that one guy who is quickly getting a coffee.

Great communication is the most important quality of a high functioning team. However, talking more is not communicating better. Let’s be honest here: The average Scrum team already has plenty of meetings where they can share what they’re working on. Status updates are given on the Kanban board and ad hoc communication will happen. Really.

Self-organizing teams and top-down mandatory meetings don’t blend very well. What’s the point of taking ownership of your product and time if some manager can demand your presence for yet another status update? Setting up a great communication network is hard teamwork. It’s much easier to send that recurring meeting request and hope for the best.

Leave it up to the team members to come up with a method that works for them. Take off the training wheels and trust the people to do their work. Drop the stand-up and start the day productive.

In software development, mandatory meetings are not good. So adding one is bad. Adding one every single day is evil.

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