“Agile” or “being Agile” is not a new thing anymore, right? We have even worked or we are working in Agile environments or we are at least familiar with all its concepts.
When we think to Agile, and more precise, to Scrum, the one thing that comes rapidly to our mind is the daily stand-up. At least, that’s for me. I feel that the stand-up is the way I’m starting my Agile day.
What is actually the stand-up in Agile world?
“Each day at the same time, the team meets so as to bring everyone up to date on the information that is vital for coordination: each team members briefly describes any “completed” contributions and any obstacles that stand in their way. Usually, Scrum’s three questions are used to structure discussion.” — AgileAlliance
When we are working in an Agile setup, we are so used to this approach we don’t even bother asking if there is any other way in giving our daily stand-up. At least that was my case.
In the past year I have invested time in trying to figure out patterns applicable for highly performing teams. And more than that, what is actually a performing team? And while observing my workmates behaviours, and more than that, observing which situations are causing frustrations more than others do, one thing stood up: meetings. Seemed that a higher number of meetings was directly proportional with the level of frustration. No matter how important the planning, retrospective or grooming meeting was, people wanted to code or to test, rather than interrupting their work for a meeting.
What changed? 🍃
I have started to work at the beginning of the year on a new project and the thing that scared me the most was that I had to work remote from my office in Romania, having workmates (developers, business analyst, project manager) in UK and Spain (developers, tester). So, yes, 3 different timezones. What a challenge! Besides that, it was agreed with the stakeholder that their product people (product owner and business analyst) take part to the team’s daily stand-up from their office in Netherlands. It started to look quite complicated to gather all these people together for 15 minutes at the same time, every single day.
The project manager proposed instead of a daily stand-up meeting, a Skype chat where the team members write their answers to the well-known Scrum specific questions — “what did you do yesterday, what are you going to do today, do you have any issues or blockers?”
I was skeptical.
And my main concern was that we were going to lose the minimal human interaction that an online meeting can offer.
But here it is what this new proposal brought to our team. And, as a fun fact, it made it one of the topics on the “what went well” at the project’s final retrospective.
Each team member could pick their own time when to post their status on the Skype chat. The initial commitment from the team was to post the status as first thing in the morning, best before lunch time. This rule helped us to take our time and looking to our tasks in Jira, note them and add any relevant comments to what we did one day before and what we are planning to do during the current day. Even you forget to add certain details about your work, you can easily edit your written status.
It happens a lot while you’re in an online daily stand-up meeting to have other browser tabs open, right? Or am I the only one having focusing issues? I know I’m not. While someone from your team says something that might affect your work or tasks, you’re looking for a new pair of Converse.
Having a written update, it allows every team member to read as much or as less as s/he needs to know to do his or her job in that day. Simple.
Because you don’t have an appointment anymore. You can focus on working on your tasks, without being interrupted by a meeting.
Having a written update instead of traditional daily stand-ups might work for some teams, for others might not. I see it applicable when you deal with a situation similar to ours — many people (13 in our case), spread all over the Europe, having different time zones and different schedules.
I can say that the human interaction was not affected, as I was afraid it would be. We had quite a good communication, even if in many cases was written.
What do you say? Would you give this approach a try?
Thanks for reading!
Photo by Joe Green on Unsplash.