Why we ditched the daily standup meeting?
Definition of Daily Scrum
To begin with, let's start with the Daily Scrum definition, taken from Scrum Guide:
The purpose of the Daily Scrum is to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and adapt the Sprint Backlog as necessary, adjusting the upcoming planned work.
The Daily Scrum is a 15-minute event for the Developers of the Scrum Team. To reduce complexity, it is held at the same time and place every working day of the Sprint. [...]"
Key points from this definition:
- 15 minutes
- inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal
- same time
The drawbacks of traditional standup meetings
After reading "Async/Remote" book (written by Andrzej Krzywda & Robert Pankowecki), it hit me that most of the meetings are a pure waste of time. I decided to take a closer look at our meetings. I started with standup. I had several observations. Let me share them with you.
Standup may be reporting meeting
The first problem that I noticed is that sometimes it's a reporting meeting. It's super easy to check it. During your daily, observe to whom your teammates are talking. If they are reporting to the manager/leader, then you have a problem. If they are talking to each other then you are good. Then the question is: are they also listening to each other? Again, it's easy to check. After the meeting ask anyone, what others did yesterday.
People start at different time
Another problem that I found out was that people start at different times. That's pretty obvious. But let's say you have daily at 9:15 AM every day. That means that someone who starts at 7:30 will be in deep focus around 9. Guess what? Daily is at 9:15, so you have to take a break and talk to us! What if someone had a really tough night (eg. he couldn't sleep because of his baby) ? Oh, common! Daily at 9:15, wake up!
But it does not matter when you start. Daily at the same time, means you have to give up what you are doing and join the daily. The same goes for other meetings but let's not touch it now :)
Drifts // lack of discussion
Sometimes during daily, people tend to get into the technical conversation. Because the thing they were doing is complex and they need help. So others help them during the meeting. I've seen it many times. 8 people at the meeting. Someone has a problem. One person explains how to solve it. Six people are waiting.
What's more, having time constraints on the meeting means you might not have proper discussions. Of course, there is an option to stay after the meeting and discuss something. From my experience, people are not willing to do it.
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Rethinking the daily standup: our approach to communication and collaboration.
Having in mind the definition of the daily, we came up with the following plan.
We will create a dedicated channel for async daily. It's up to you to decide when you want to write your "Daily", but we expect you to write something daily.
Having this written means that we can create threads and have nice discussions. We won't lose them as they are stored on servers. Which means we can get back to them anytime we want. Even if you record your daily standups, that's not possible. Unless you know how to search for a phrase in videos.
Is this for everyone?
One thing worth noticing here is that Daily Scrum is also team building activity. You get to see the others, hear their voices and talk in real time. If your team likes meetings, enjoys talking to each other, they don't face productivity issues because of the meetings then it's not for you :)
What's more, you need to have the tools to do it. If you are communicating on Whatsapp or on Messenger then you can't do it. You need to have a tool where you can create separate channels and create Threads on messages.
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My Experience and Lessons Learned.
We implemented async-daily in May 2022. We started it as a 2nd way of attending daily. If someone was not able to join online daily, there was a chance to write it on a separate channel. Gradually, more people were writing in on a daily basis. One day, there was only 1 person attending the daily and the question was asked
I am alone on the daily. Should I write what I did on a channel as well?
That was a day when we killed "normal" Daily Scrum. We replaced "Daily Scrum" with "Virtual Coffee meeting" once per week. We have time to talk to each other and keep team spirit.
In my opinion, everyone is more productive, happier & communication got better as well.
That was a good change!