Daily Standup

Are you confused as to whether to do a daily standup or not for your team? Read on why you should.

Daily standups are a hotly contested and controversial topic in the software industry. There are some who actively champion it, and then there are others who detest it. I belong to the former camp, and firmly believe every team should do a daily standup.

One of the primary problems that teams face is information asymmetry. Some members tend not to know what their teammates are up to; this results in individuals becoming islands and a breakdown in efficiency. I can write an entire post on the problems this causes but for some other day. One of the reasons for this is not everyone in the team communicates at the same level; all teams face communication asymmetry.

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There is a vast diversity in humans when it comes to communication. Some excel in it; some do not. Efficient and timely communication can make or break teams and are a huge indicator of a team’s success. Standups force everyone to communicate. You do not have the option of not communicating during a standup.

A format I have seen work is going around with each one telling:
1. What they did yesterday.
2. What they plan to do today.
3. Any blockers they are facing which needs immediate attention.

This ensures everyone in the team knows what their teammates are working on.

Apart from information proliferation, this also helps in surfacing blockers. A lot many people do not know when to surface blockers, and they wait for things to go down before yelling for help. Daily standup gives everyone a forum to do it before shit hits the fan. It also allows others in the team to intervene and course correct when needed.

As with any meeting, it is paramount to keep daily standups short and sweet. Do not allow anyone to hijack the daily standup for lengthy or off-track discussions. Do it outside the standup.

One downside of standup is that people who communicate well and efficiently feel penalized and do not see the worth of it. I was in this camp when I was new to the industry, but as I have built teams and scaled organizations, I have become an acolyte of daily standups. If it is of any solace, think of it like taking one for the team and the organization.

Photo by Margarida CSilva on Unsplash

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