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Daily standups should not be a status readout

2015 May 20
by Eddie

Woah, is this thing on? It has been a while since I’ve ranted or shared anything, but I am trying to get back into regularly sharing my thoughts, however useless they may be.

The topic burning in my soul today is the monotony of long stand-ups, scrums, whatever you call the daily ceremony your agile team attends to discuss where the work stands.

My opinion on this is simple Scrums are not status meetings!

46 percent of employed workers would actually prefer to be almost anywhere else unpleasant instead of sitting in a status meeting. Unfortunately, “anywhere else” includes going to the DMV, watching paint dry, or commuting for four hours. Oh, and how about a root canal or mullet hairstyle? They take preference over status meetings, too. Ouch.
— Read more at http://www.business2community.com

What is the point of daily stand-ups if not to share status updates?!

“That’s absurb!” you shout in your head, what possible use does this daily agile ceremony hold if not to update my peers on all the great work I did yesterday.   Well there are several reasons to hold this daily event, but all need to be viewed in the critical lens of reducing the amount of communication needed to the smallest conceivable morsel and frequency.

I’ll share what I consider a good report and a bad report before I delve into the qualities that distinguish them.

“Yesterday I completed GD-123, all applications can consume the recommendation service in prod now. Today I will be picking up GD-136, but may need some help on the dependency on the pony service.”

 

“Yesterday I was working on the recommendation service. I hit an issue where the CC service did not accept the criteria for age brackets but was able to resolve it by passing in a qualifier that stipulated the sex it applied to.  I deployed it out to production last night and it was passing all the smoke tests across the board. It should be ready for people to use now.  I’ll probably start working on the corral portal, I like the idea of separating the animals by pedigree as well as age but don’t feel strongly either way I guess.  Keep in mind that eventually when we have the rancher portal in place we will need a new integration bridge between the pony and cattle services.  Oh, and also I spent sometime yesterday with Bryan reviewing the customer documentation for release 3 and it all looks really good, I like that we included more images than our last round.”

What, sorry, I wasn’t paying attention…

But seriously, we are an awesome team, we all do great work, tell me about that awesome debugging session over a beer sometime when I have opted to be there and don’t have coding my own hot-fire on the mind.

 

What makes a good update (without being a readout of status)?

  • Reference to prioritized and visible work items (the ticket)
  • Identifying blockers (whether you are the impeded or impeder)
  • Getting help, or expressing the need for help
  • Concise!!

 

Use standups to identify impediments that have, or may soon come up, or when they are knocked down.  If you did 99 things yesterday doesn’t mean the team will think you are a slouch for only talking in detail to the 1 that affects the other work in flight.

 

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