Are You Killing the Daily Stand-up?

Episode 8 - 21 Oct 2015

The Daily Stand-up is a cornerstone of Agile Software Development. But you - and here I'm talking to Product Owners, Product Managers, Business owners - may be undermining it without even knowing it.

The good news it that it's very easy to fix.

Key take-aways: - Stand-up should start at the same time every day - Stand-up should not depend on every team member being present - Every member of the team should be capable of running Stand-up

Remember to grab your FREE Cheat Sheet: Daily Standup Words of Wisdom

The daily stand-up - also know as the Daily Scrum or “Huddle”

is a key element of Agile Development.

What if I told you that you - yes YOU -

could be undermining the daily stand-up without even knowing it?

Not by HOW your doing it - but by WHEN your doing it.

Hi this is Gary. Welcome to Development That Pays.

It’s 9:50am.

Your development team is already hard at work.

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

It’s 9:50 am

John and Sarah have been in for a while. Both have their headphones on.

John is checking email.

Sarah is trying to to get some code to pass one last test.

With a bit of luck she’ll being able to commit the code before Stand-up.


John gets up to go and make himself a cup of tea.

Kevin strolls in, Costa Coffee in hand.

Dave - he’s the Lead Developer - is heading up in the lift.

He’s cutting it fine. As usual.

The entire team is gearing up - each in their own way - for the 10 o’clock stand-up.

The clock ticks around to 10 am.

And the entire team rises as one.

Let’s run that again.

The clock ticks around to 10.

But no one stands up.

They’re waiting for something.

They’re waiting for someone.

They’re waiting for you.

But you’re not there. You’re in a meeting.

You’re always in a meeting.

But it’s no biggie, you think.

You’ll be finished in 5 mins.

You have no idea of the damage you’ve done.

Lead Developer Dave is not amused.

As usual, he’s had a nightmare commute.

It’s tough for him to get in by 10.

But most days he manages it - even if it is by the skin of his teeth.

He made the effort. Why didn’t you?

Kevin is starting to feel anxious.

He spent a good part of yesterday afternoon wrestling with a piece of code

without success.

Inspiration did not strike overnight.

He was going to ask for help during stand-up.

But it doesn’t look like stand-up is going to happen.

Should he wait?

Should he start something else?

He’ll give it another 5 minutes.

John is just about to start a new ticket.

But he wasn’t planning to actually start until after stand-up.

Is there any point starting now?

Probably not. Facebook.

Only Sarah is grateful for the delay:

the extra couple of minutes were enough to get the test to pass and the code committed.

At the same time,

she can’t help thinking that “management” doesn’t seem to hold the dev team in very high regard.

You escape from your meeting and you stride into the room at 10:07 precisely.

"Let’s do stand-up” you say brightly.

The Dev Team rise as a single unit.

And clubs you to death.

In just seven minutes, the minds of your dev team

have wandered into all sorts of places.

Very few of them positive.

That’s all it took. 7 minutes.

Let’s fix this right now.

With two very simple rules around Stand-up.

Rule Number One

Stand-ups happen every day at exactly the same time.

Rule Two

In cases where you... have a meeting, something comes up,

you’re delayed getting in to work...


Who’s going to make sure this happens? You are.

But not directly.

You’re way too much of a meetings person.

In any case, the problem it not you.

The problem is that everyone else is waiting for you.

So let your team know that stand-ups need to happen every day at 10am

(Or at what ever time you choose. But pick a time and stick with it.)

And make sure that it becomes everyone’s responsibility to call for standup.

You need to get to a point that you KNOW the standup will happen

whether or not you’re there.

And I’d encourage you to test it out.

Go into hiding just before 10am.

Walk in at five past ten.

If stand-up is in progress, join it. And at the end, congratulate the team for going ahead without you.

If it isn’t in progress, ask how it went.

You EXPECT to hear that is went ahead.

You’ll be DISAPPOINTED to hear that it did not take place.

If you can get stand ups to happen with this relentless regularity, you’ve already won half the battle.

So much for the “WHEN?"

Next time we’ll get into the “HOW?”:

What to do once everyone is on their feet?

Talk to you then.