It's Not OK To Skip The Standup

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I participate in agile projects where we have a daily standup meeting to discuss high-level task status and roadblocks. I've noticed that many times I find there is a general feel that if the manager is out sick or can't otherwise make the daily standup that the team feels the standup is inherently canceled. When you run past their desks to find out where the missing members are to round them up, they're astonished: "What? We're still having a standup?"

Even if the manager is sick, even if one of the team members is out, yes, we are still having the standup. Why am I being so jerky about it? It's just a standup, right?

Jason Yip wrote about patterns of daily standup meetings to address the more holistic concerns about what should and shouldn't happen at a standup, so I won't re-hash that. Go read that article - I'll wait.

Good. Now let me tell you what the standup means to me and why I believe you shouldn't skip the standup.

  1. The standup is for the team, not the manager. It's great when the manager is there. And, yes, I know that in some projects you may not have a manager - it may be a peer scrummaster or some other leader. Regardless, the meeting isn't for that leader - it's for the team. You're not reporting your status to the manager, you're reporting to the team.
  2. The standup is a vestigial sign of discipline. In any team, it's important to know that your peers can meet commitments and that you can trust them to have your back. If you can't trust your team to make a simple standup, how can you trust that they're on top of any of the other tasks they're working on?

Now, it may be that the standup is at a bad time of day or that maybe it should be an every-other-day standup because there's not enough developing to warrant daily updates. It may be that there are too many people (or too many uninvolved people). There are a lot of potential problems with a standup's format, but those can be addressed - so address them. Again, the Yip article talks about some of these problems and potential solutions.

Regardless, it is not OK to skip the standup.

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