With the world moving to remote work, most teams seem to have adopted the agile engineering practice of running daily standup to keep their team aligned. But, a meeting that was designed for in-person engineering teams might not be the best way for most teams to stay in sync. Now is a great time to question whether there's a better way 🤔.
I've been running daily stand-ups with software/product teams for many years now. For the most part I'd never really questioned how they could be improved. It was kind of assumed that the effectiveness of the meeting came down to the facilitator or team members willingness to contribute/participate. But even in mature software orgs I've seen plenty of teams going through the motions in the daily standup, not getting much value out of a very expensive activity.
Stand-ups were created as an agile practice to keep engineering team in sync. Engineers are working on the the same code-base, often with headphones in for most of the day. The daily standup offered designated face-time to set the focus for the day, clear up any blocking issues and ensure everyone is kept up-to-date with progress or any issue that might affect what they're working on.
So, for years they worked pretty well for these tight, small engineering teams working on the same project. Any cons of the standup meeting were usually outweighed by the benefit of this forced focus and face to face communication.
Teams that meet the 3 criteria above are now extremely rare. Even before the world moved to remote work, we saw the rise of cross-functional teams and more flexibility to WFH or on different schedules. Stand-ups start to lose their utility and can become an anti-pattern:
So, with most teams characterised by the points above, it's no wonder that more and more people are dreading the daily standup call. The most common complaints we've found with new teams introducing the daily standup call are:
At Complish we believe the status update does not need everyone to drop everything and jump on a call. It doesn't mean we want to kill the daily stand-up meeting. Instead, we think by removing the need for a synchronous video call simply to get a status update, teams can spend meeting time on higher value conversations.
Since going remote and ditching the daily standup, our team has instead opted for a twice-weekly video call for deeper discussion around product or business challenges. Our status updates are, of course run on Complish via daily check-ins where we can see what everyone's working on, or check on the mood of a teammate at any time.
We think now is the right time to question whether everyone is getting value out of your daily Zoom/Hangouts standup. Are you going through the motions? Are you having the right meetings? It's quite a costly exercise to be doing just because it seems like everyone else is doing it.