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How valuable (or not) do you think daily stand-up meetings are?

If you're not familiar with it, this refers to a daily meeting that is part of Scrum adherents (and some other agile methodologies). The idea is that you hold a daily meeting, timeboxed to 15 minutes, and in which everyone must stand (to encourage people to be to-the-point).

In the meeting, you go around the room and each say: - What you did yesterday - What you plan to do today - Any blockers or impediments to your progress.

Do you think this practice has value? Has anyone worked at a place that's done it, and what did you think?

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17 Answers 17

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We had daily standups at my first job. Well, with all the co-ops/interns/temps, it was actually on the long side - usually around 30 minutes.

But the idea of a short, timeboxed, daily meeting helped a lot just to know what other people were stuck on - and if it was something I was working on, I could reprioritize my tasks to finish what they needed to continue sooner. It also gave everyone a chance to know what everyone was working on so if someone had an emergency, everyone was at least aware of what was going on - reducing a truck factor is always a good thing.

Honestly, every day might be a little extreme in some cases. But the idea of short, regular meetings for everyone to stay on the same page is a valuable addition to any process.

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I also found this very helpful for communication, but you also have to make sure you define tasks that are small enough that you can see progress. Otherwise you get people saying "working on the UI" for a whole month, and that's not very helpful. I would suggest you read the Scrum/Agile book and try to implement the whole processes rather then just the meeting. –  J8D Sep 12 '10 at 7:29
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I think it's essential to encourage a productive and honest working environment, where everyone's focused on the same thing. Following on from what J8D said, the daily stand-up is greatly improved if you can do it in front of a task board, so when people say "Yesterday I worked on xyz" you can physically point to that work item on the board and see it progress from left (not done) to right (done) in the days ahead. It really helps to identify blockers and keeps everyone honest. –  dwynne Sep 12 '10 at 11:55
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Sounds like your meetings needed more structure. Standups aren't the place for arguments or discussions. Say what you're working on and tell someone if you're gonna need some help from them. People are free to ask question to make sure you're not going off on the wrong track or re-doing code you don't need to, but that's it. 10 minutes. MAX. –  Jaco Pretorius Sep 14 '10 at 8:06
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@Thomas Owens Sounds good, every situation is unique. I would question whether or not I really need to know what 17 other people are doing. For example, we often invite the testers to the standups, but they're mostly only there to observe. –  Jaco Pretorius Sep 14 '10 at 12:10
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We have standups but in smaller groups of 3-7 people. I think having too many people in a stand up is a bad idea –  rmx Oct 20 '10 at 14:48
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I find these meetings very valuable. They offer the following benefits—in return of spending just 15 minutes!

  • Keeps everyone on-topic. It's easy to dig into your own problems and forget about what others do, or to repeat work being done by someone else. Daily meetings prevent this from happening.
  • Doesn't allow people to slack. At these meetings you make promises. Then you just have to try to keep them.
  • Makes people interact. Programmers usually don't like talking to people. However, in such meetings they get encouragement (and reprimands) from their colleagues, which has positive effect on morale.
  • Gathers everyone in one place. You get a bonus of knowing that everyone will come there. This can be used to arrange other meetings, make announcements and to continue this daily meeting in smaller groups to discuss specific problems. Usually, organizing such meetings takes a lot of attention and requires skills that programmers don't like to use.
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I can stand for hours on end. It doesn't make me any more to the point, or have any real significance/impact to a short daily catch-up meeting.

But hey, if standing up lets you re-brand something as agile, it must be good!


As for whether regular catch-up meeting in general are a good idea... well they help if you other processes are ineffective.

If you want to know what someone did yesterday, and what their next task(s) are, look on the Issue Tracker, where it's already recorded. If there's not a clear filter that tells you this for the whole team, set one up (or find better software).

If you want to know if anyone has any blockers, check your messages (whether email/im/forum/whatever). If anyone has any, they should be notifying both the relevant party and the project lead when they occur, not wasting a day waiting before anyone else finds out, nevermind having a chance to act.


There's certainly benefit from having regular meetings to discuss the direction of a project - in a general sense, rather than specifics, to make sure everyone understands the overall goals and so on - and held weekly or fortnightly (depending on pace of things).

But spending a quarter of an hour every day just so you can feel agile and great and stuff? Waste of time.

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-1 Classic 'classic' answer. To bad you're missing out. -Stand-up is to keep the momentum and energy going - 15min timebox to avoid 'status meeting' waste of time feeling. - The 3 questons are just a guide, the goal of the meeting is to talk about the product/project –  Rudi Feb 21 '11 at 12:06
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÷1 I find momentum easier to keep going when I'm actually doing stuff and not pretending a status meeting isn't a status meeting, but whatever - I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. :) –  Peter Boughton Feb 22 '11 at 16:55
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I think they are very valuable if they are performed correctly. The format that has worked well for me is this..

Each person gives a short answer to the following questions.
a) What are you working on?
b) What will you get done by the next meeting (tomorrow)?
c) Did you accomplish what you said you would get done at the last meeting?
d) What obstacles are slowing/stopping your progress?

Any extended discussion of the above should be curbed during the meeting to keep it short. Anyone can stay after (or meet later in the day) to discuss with the relevant person(s) anything that needs extended coverage.

This achieves the following goals:
a) The team lead/product owner is in the loop about possible delays quickly.
b) The team lead can eliminate obstacles quickly.
c) The team lead can identify people spinning their wheels quickly.
d) It encourages collaboration between team members who might be too introverted to ask for help when they need it.
e) It encourages momentum by keeping the commitments short (minimizes work expanding to time available for project).

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I have not found them useful as practiced at my workplace, where the "Daily 15-Minute Standup" stretched to 30, then 45, and now often 60 minutes; where everyone sits down while waiting for the project manager to fiddle with the projector, or the network share, or whatever else the day's random demon is; where he insists on everyone taking the time to provide status updates before the meeting, but then queries everyone again (just in case we've accomplished something else in the last few moments); The only part of the original concept that remains is "Daily".

Don't do this.

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It is obvious that they are not useful the way things have turned. Exactly one of the reasons why it is a standup is exactly to prevent the meetings from taking too long, and bringing in stuff like projectors, etc. –  Pete Feb 21 '11 at 9:44
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Totally missing the point of daily standups by doing them wrong, doesn't mean the idea is wrong. Try and do the standup meeting better, stick to the timebox, fixed place, fixed time, and fixed goal: team communication and then they are a pleasure to do. Sigh-- again the standup is for the team, not for the PM or anyone else. –  Rudi Feb 21 '11 at 12:12
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Get rid of the projector. –  Kirk Broadhurst Dec 29 '11 at 5:55
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Long before SCRUM and Agile were ever thought of, I was a team lead on a manpower study that took 2 years to do. It would have taken far longer without daily meetings. In the first place, human beings being human beings, they will slack off if they know no one is paying attention. If they have to show progress every day, they slack off less. If Joe seems to be making more progress than they are, they slack off less. Further, it lets the manager (or whoever) know when problems occur before they become a crisis. So if Steve is going to be a week late and Harry is ahead, then we can move some tasks around. This keeps the project from getting behind because one person got stuck. Further, usually someone else will be able to help the person get unstuck. The daily meeting was the key to my success on this team and the later job where I managed 30 studies going on all over the world and not one was late or over budget and all easily passed quality control.

Now I worked one place where we gave a big project to a new employee. (I was not his boss.) The progress reports he gave his managers were "everything is great, it will all be done on time" but no specifics and no one required him to say exactly what progress he had made since the day before. He, as I'm sure the experienced among you have guessed, quit with no notice a week before the deadline and none of his tasks were complete or even in a state where the "work" he had done was useable. This is why the daily meetings are needed - to keep these people making real progress and to find out when they aren't before the whole project goes down the tubes. I ended up doing his tasks and mine and working overtime all summer so we could keep the multimillion dollar customer.

Yeah we all like to believe that our devs are all internally motivated and will always produce the goods for us, but the truth is you have to protect the team and the organization from people like this. You never know who they will be; sometimes it's not the new employee, but the one who is mad at the organization (justifiably or not) or the one who just lost his wife (at least you often know who these people are, but not everyone shares their personal problems).

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Yes or no and are they valuable are two different questions. The answers may also be different. In case of the latter question, the answer may depend on the perspective.

The 1st question, yes or no? It's a yes. From the Scrum or XP point of view, the standup is an essential activity. If you don't have daily scrums, then it's not really Scrum, it's called "scrum, but we don't do daily standups" or scrumbut for short. if you want to include a Kanban perspective, most Kanban teams do standups, even though their method doesn't prescribe them.

The 2nd question, (how) are they valuable, is more complicated. If you practice Scrum or XP, you've got to believe that the standups are essential to promote collaboration, teamwork and make your team more effective. So the answer is definitely valuable.

The lean proponents' perspective is very different. An extreme lean view is that your customer doesn't care if you do standups, so they are just waste. What do you with waste? You cut it to the minimum, ideally to zero.

A more moderate lean view is that while not exactly waste, daily standups are a coordination cost and not a value-added activity. You can play devil's advocate with your Scrum colleagues and ask them: if you think your 15-minute standups are a value-added activity, why don't you do 30 minutes of them every day or 45 minutes and easily magnify the value added?

Kanban, which has lean roots but aims to deliver on the Agile Manifesto principles, resolves this paradox by doing standups, but using a very different meeting structure than the traditional agile standup format. The result is a much shorter meeting, which aligns with the Lean point of view. This book has an example where a 50-person Kanban team does daily standups in 10 minutes.

To summarize, whether or not to do daily standups, the answer is a definite yes. But, are they valuable, how valuable are they -- it depends.

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It can be useful, but often is not in practice.

If you have a team that does not have easy access to other team members as they work, or your organization makes it difficult to find the managers/PMs/whoever then at least you know you have one shot per day to get a question answered.

In practice it sometimes encourages people not to discuss issues immediately, and it can become a considerable time suck. For example:

If I am only on one active development project (usually I am on two) usually there are at least one finishing out QA and one spinning up at the same time. That is three 15 min standups a day. Mine are nearly never back-to-back. You loose some time in making sure you are at a stopping point before each one and similarly getting back on track after each one. Even if you assume those losses are one 10 min each that translates to more than a whole workday lost to standups each week.

Add in the commit meetings and demos and that easily eats a whole additional day.

IMHO if your team is having a communication issue then daily meetings can help, but doing them otherwise is simply too much of a resource sink.

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In my experience, stand-ups haven't been worth it, especially the daily kind. They're either one of two things: an empty ritual, or an undirected ad-hoc meeting.

  1. The empty ritual: everyone goes around the circle and states the task they're working on and their progress. No one really cares about what the others are working on, and nothing gets done (as a result of the stand-up) if there's a problem.

  2. The undirected ad-hoc meeting: Someone (usually a manager, PM, or someone from the business) comes and derails it. Maybe we talk about today's fire in minute detail, or how someone is getting anxious about if we're going to meet a deadline, etc. 15 minutes turns into half-an-hour or longer. Everyone's standing, even though we really should be sitting if it's going to be this long.

Also, the "stand-up" part of stand-ups does not help time-box the meetings, it just adds physical discomfort to the mix.

I've had much better experiences with ad-hoc communication between team members than formal stand-ups. If someone cares about what you're working on or your progress, they'll ask you or you'll tell them. If you have a problem or are blocked, you make sure the people who need to know about it know. If a requirement is unclear, you track down the business user or the BA and ask them about it.

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I've been in both kind of groups where stand-up (or sit-down) meetings either adds value or fails to be relevant. The failed one I'd say is the same as the second point you give, that someone in the team with power derails the meeting (and is passive-aggressive about it). –  Spoike Feb 21 '11 at 8:28
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It's been effective for me in teams of 3 and 5 people, and I've seen it used effectively for a team of event planners that had about 20 people in it. You have to keep it short, you have to keep it moving. It's fine if you sit but there shouldn't be any extra stuff (handouts, whiteboard, video, etc.)

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How valuable (or not) do you think daily stand-up meetings are?

Offcource all the scrum Framework meetings are important but I think the daily standup meeting is the 'most' important meeting in the Scrum Framework. It is like a heart in a body. If the heart does not pump blood regularly then the body is bound to die, the body in this case is the Organisation or the Project following scrum and the heart is the scrum meeting.

Do you think this practice has value? Yes.Daily Scrums improve communications, eliminate other meetings, identify and remove impediments to development, highlight and promote quick decision-making, and improve everyone's level of project knowledge. The Daily Scrum is not a status meeting. The Daily Scrum is an inspection of the progress toward that Sprint Goal (the three questions). Follow-on meetings usually occur to make adaptations to the upcoming work in the Sprint. The intent is to optimize the probability that the Team will meet its Goal. This is a key inspect and adapt meeting in the Scrum empirical process.

Has anyone worked at a place that's done it, and what did you think?

Yes, In my last project we followed the Scrum Framework and Agile practices. We were very serious about the Scrum Framework in general and we did not do it half heartedly. Initially I was in a team of 5, then I moved to a larger team of around 9, and then again back to a 6 spread around a 4 year time frame. The daily scrum meeting made sure everyone was in sync, impediments were transparent, and we as Team could see how the Team was progressing with the burn-down in front of us and we knew exactly who was working on what, and where we could contribute ourselves. It is definitely easier to do when you have teams of 6 or less. The purpose of a scrum meeting is to do a self inspection check, and if any thing is found going not in the direction of the goal or if something is blocked, the self organised team adapts, so I think it is very crucial that you have it.

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Unless there's a good reason to have a fully networked communication between the whole team daily, it sounds like a big waste of time.

Rather have weeklies.

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The most useful type of standup is the Kanban type.

  1. You'll need a task board that reflects your real workflow/ value stream. This taskboard is the focal point of the standup.
  2. Focus on work items, not people
    • Focus more on which work items you, as team, can finish (based on the taskboard), than what you can begin
    • Focus on solving problems the board shows you - bottlenecks, blocks, etc

(This will probably not work too well in a Scrum setting, where commitment and focus on people is a key mechanism.)

This way, a standup meeting can be short, even with many people, but still have real use.

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In my experience pre planning what you will do in the next day leads to major productivity boosts. So having these scrum like meetings are worth the lost time for that reason alone.

Try to keep them short though, or even do it in a group Skype chat everyday at the same time. Just be sure to read eachothers updates though.

A daily status report at the end of each day before you go home has the same effect.

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I think daily stand-ups are a great idea regardless of what methodology or area you're working in - provided you can keep them short 15min max. If you can't regularly keep to that then there are either too many people attending a single stand-up or the meeting isn't focussed enough.

Where we are the marketing team started copying us and now also have stand-ups - so it's not just for developers either!

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We've been doing "stand up" meetings before we knew it was agile scrum, for about 7 years now. In my opinion they are a great way to get a general feeling about how the project is progressing and if someone is in need of help. Some of my team members don't like to ask for help but will accept it when offered this is often done in the daily standup.

Meetings must be short ,we had meetings usually under 10 minutes with 7 team members. It helps to plan them just before the ten o clock break. Also we do not use technology in the meetings just the scrum board with post it tasks and some charts.

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On the plus side, these meetings can have the effect of boosting productivity in terms of achieving urgent and immediate business objectives.

On the negative side, these meetings (daily: what did you do? what are you going to do? what's in your way?) discourage what we might call "google-time", or working/learning on a side project that has no immediate impact on the business, but could have significant impact down the line.

One product that I did the prototype for would never have passed the daily meeting test, and thankfully, my old manager gave boatloads of freedom to work on my own, and now the real product is live. But now that the old manager has left, and a new one has entered who embraces the concept of a daily scrum, I don't see how I could have ever developed the prototype in the daily scrum environment.

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