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Stop the Daily Standup Meeting

So, your Scrum Master (or product owner or some line manager) is out of office. She cancels the daily standup meeting, a.k.a "Daily Scrum". Did that ever happen to you? Does it happen all the time? If yes, stop doing daily standup meetings. Yes, completely stop them.

You are not doing the daily standup meeting for the team. When it gets cancelled because a certain person is not there, you are doing the meeting for that person. There might be several reasons why this is happening:

  • Everyone is working on their own tasks / user stories, with very little need for coordination outside of the regular sprint meetings. This can cause a host of other problems, but you probably do not need a daily standup meeting.
  • People are not even working on the same project. Everyone on the "team" is on a different project, e.g. people in an agency working for different customers. So your team is not even a team!
  • Your team is working closely together all the time. They are co-located, and they always work together on a single user story. Everyone already knows what everybody else is doing, so you do not need a daily meeting where everyone is stating the obvious.

One could argue that in the first two situations, the "team" is not a real team. But that would miss the point: In all those situations, the daily scrum does not provide any value to the team. It is maily used for reporting the progress to a manager (or the product owner or the Scrum Master).

And for reporting the progress of a project (or multiple projects), the daily standup meeting is not very effective. You need to find a better way to track this progress.

Or, if said manager also already knows what's going on, it is a hollow ritual that is done for no good reason. A tradition that has surpassed its usefulness. Or, if it never was useful, a cargo cult.

So, why did I say "stop doing the daily standup" instead of "find a better way to do the daily standup" then?

I want you to stop because this is a very simple, low-risk experiment you can do. You need no preparation at all, and you will get feedback immediately. And you can roll back the experiment in less than a day, if it is not working for you.

Just stop the doing the daily standup, and make everyone record what they are missing. After two or four weeks, you'll have a very good idea which and how much value the daily standup brought to the team. Just make sure everyone is actually recording what they are missing!

By stopping completely, you get a much better idea why you need the daily standup than by trying to change it in baby steps. That's why I told you to completely stop it: To get more data, faster.

Then, when you know what you are missing, you can design the next experiment around the question: How can we get the main value back, in a simpler, more effective, less boring way? The answer to that question will be different for every team. Maybe it even means bringing the daily standup back like it was. But some teams will find a solution that works better - for them.

You may also want to read Your Daily Scrum is Killing Your Team by J.B. Rainsberger. He also advocates stopping the daily standup when you do not get any value out of it, and he also describes situations in which you'd want to bring it back.

Read this article in Russian - Translation by Vlad Brown

My name is David Tanzer and I have been working as an independent software consultant since 2006. I help my clients to develop software right and to develop the right software by providing training, coaching and consultanting for teams and individuals.

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