How do daily standups work?
The daily standup (also called a daily scrum meeting) is a popular ceremony with teams who follow an agile process and it is one of the communication habits we recommend. This event typically lasts about fifteen minutes (if you are lucky) and everyone shares the following:
- What did you accomplish yesterday?
- What are you working on today?
- Any blockers?
This regular event creates a fast feedback loop inside a team, ensuring that people are free and clear to do their best work. In highly collaborative environments, it's important that team members are aware of how their work effects others on their team. Daily standups create a space to align a team and uncover ways to improve process.
We are huge fans of this approach and believe standups are a critical process to a well-functioning team.
Problems with synchronous (in-person) standups
At Friday, we've have spent many hours sharing progress in daily standups and we understand the value of holding them in-person. With that being said, we believe that they are not worth the time investment and should be done asynchronously instead. We've listed a few problems below:
- The majority of the time team members are simply sharing information (what they accomplished yesterday and plan on doing today). This can be done online instead and referenced on an ad-hoc basis.
- As more and more teams are distributed, it becomes increasingly difficult to coordinate people across various timezones. We've had coworkers join morning standup meetings at 8pm at night in their timezone.
- People start building their schedule around the daily standup, punting in-depth work that requires little distractions until after the scrum meeting occurs.
- People work better at different times of the day and a fixed, regular meeting reduces one's ability to work when they are most productive.
- 15 minutes every day is expensive over time. A team of five engineers paid $100k annually ends up costing almost $100/day (or $2500/month).
- Important information is shared, but is not visible to people outside the standup, increasing the chances that someone will ask you what the status is on a certain project.
Asynchronous daily standups
We believe that daily standups can be done asynchronously instead, especially as communication platforms like Slack continue to grow in popularity. We believe this approach has a variety of benefits outlined below:
- Team members can complete a standup when they are not doing "deep work"
- Standups can be shared across the company, ensuring that teams are aligned and aware of what's happening.
- They can be referenced over time, enabling better conversations.
- Teams can save hours every week.
- Team members don't have to stand and listen to one person talk too long about something very few people care about.