Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Just say no to standups

I never liked regularly scheduled standup meetings. They interrupt your flow. They are boring because most of what is said has nothing to do with you. When an interesting topic does come up, the standup quickly transforms into a meeting-meeting that holds uninterested parties hostage. Standups are lame.

The good news is that, thanks to tools like Slack and Hipchat, we don't need to suffer through standups anymore. For around a year, my development teams having used ChICO (Checkin/Checkout) rooms. I got the idea from this blog post by Zsolt Kocsmarszky. When team members check in, they report what they are working on, who they need to work with, and any blockers they foresee. When they check out, they report what they accomplished and their plans for the next day.

This approach has multiple advantages over the classic standup.

  1. It does not need to be synchronous.
    People report in and read at a time that works for them. They are alerted when a new announcement is made and can check it in their next stopping point.
  2. It is scannable.
    You can scan over information that is not relevant. 
  3. It is self documenting.
    Nobody needs to capture minutes or take notes.
  4. It works well for geographically dispersed teams.
    Nothing is worse than a "phone standup" and, when timezones are involved, there is no good time to have them.
  5. It cuts across language barriers.
    This may be the biggest one for us. My team's written English skills are great but the spoken word is challenging due to accents and "buffering" (when the time it takes you to decipher a word and recall it's meaning makes you fall behind). Removing that barrier has brought my teams closer together on both personal and professional levels. 
Given these advantages, I am surprised when I hear about teams that still do standups. Please join me in saying no to these silly little meetings.