Is Your Stand-up Worth The Time?

Let’s assume you’re working in a team. An Agile team (of course). Chances are you’re doing daily stand-ups. Perfect, right?

Not quite. Here’s why: 4 out of 5 times you don’t need daily stand-ups in your team.

Disclaimer: Lots and lots of other team leaders / scrum masters / engineering managers / etc. think like me, which means there’s hundreds of articles out there covering this particular topic. So if you’ve been reading about stand-ups for a while, a lot of what follows might sound familiar.

Signs that you could go without one

Following are a few signals I’ve used in the past to get rid of stand-ups (follow the links for some more examples). And yes, killing meetings really is the best!

  • The stand-up is used as an artificial start to the work day. Unless you work shifts in manufacturing or the hospital this isn’t necessary. We’re all adults. We all live busy lives. If this is (one of) the reasons you’re getting together, try moving it closer to lunchtime.
  • The only thing that happens is a boring status update from everybody. Write it down. Slack it. Email. Doesn’t matter. Getting everybody together for a status meeting is a waste of time and money!
  • You have more than 6 to 8 participants. That’s a sure sign that no one will listen to everybody, and only the manager is spoken to. This one is very common. If the manager needs an update, just sort it out some other way.
  • The team just formed recently and hasn’t had time to build a decent level of trust yet. Stand-ups are only worthwhile when participants are not afraid to be honest and hold each other accountable. Start by building trust and relationships first!

When to try stand-ups

In my opinion, there aren’t many situations a stand-up is worth trying and might add some value, at least for a little while. In fact, at the moment I can only think of one:

You’re not working together day-to-day

Imagine a group of people that need to share information / status, but is not sitting together or working in the same team. E.g. a group of designers across several cross-functional teams.

Having a stand-up in this situation can help to make sure relevant conversations happen across teams and work can be synced up.

Go forth and have one less meeting every day

I’m pretty sure everybody has heard someone say “We’re agile, we do stand-ups!”. Truth is you don’t become agile when you do stand-ups, but they might be a tool you use as part of your agile practices.

So, next time you’re doing a stand-up have a good think / discussion about whether you need it or not… As one of my colleagues put it very succinctly the other day: “Stand-ups are a beginner tool”. Very true. Level up!

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