Mike MacDonagh's Blog

Somewhere in the overlap between software development, process improvement and psychology

Daily Standup Epiphany

The purpose of a daily standup is to bring the team together to answer some questions (What did I do yesterday? What am I going to do today? Are there any blockers/impediments?). One of the client teams I work with has a daily standup every day in the business change team I’m part of. I’ve always found the first two questions rather pointless as basically the team would get together and read out their diaries for yesterday and today. It just wasn’t helpful and so in the past I’ve argued against the Daily Standup in it’s normal form in business change teams. It was too long and boring, especially the team is mostly comprised of mentors who’d spend the day working on their own patch of the organisation rather than with each other.

Recently I wasn’t working for the client on a Monday and my son was doing a school play on Tuesday morning so I arranged to go into work a bit late and missed the standup. And at this point I had an epiphany, I was at my desk and didn’t know how the team were feeling. I still wasn’t particularly interested in their diary commitments but I was interested in their mood and if anything of team level significance had happened since I’d last been in.

So it hit me, the value of the daily standup, as described in my first sentence, is the more about the former than the latter.

The purpose of a daily standup is to bring the team together to answer some questions…

Being able to look around the team and see who’s around, what their mood is and make the human connection is the important point. Even the metaphorical bringing of the team together physically (if possible) reinforces the team identity.

So now we’ve improved our standup process. The value of bringing the team together is paramount, the questions reworked for our team and it’s context. We examine new incoming work, how to resource it and raise impediments. So we’ve dropped the creeping death of  diary exposition and just kept the value 🙂

What do you get out of standups?


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