Why I hate SCRUM daily stand-up meetings

I’ve been doing SCRUM stand-up meetings for 2 years before switching to a pre-sales role, and I’m going to tell you why I hated this.

Disclaimer #1: think again before posting your”you don’t understand what SCRUM is” comment. First, this blog post is not about SCRUM in general, but specifically about SCRUM daily stand-up meetings. Then, I fully understand the concept – thank you – but it’s just that I (ie: “me”) don’t like it and I think that there are other ways to achieve the same results.

Disclaimer #2: yes, this is about what I selfishly think… but it’s my blog so I do what I want 😉

Let’s all happily meet in the morning ! (late people will be crucified)

First, the meeting is supposed to begin every morning at the same time. Why in the morning ? Because “it helps set the context for the coming day’s work“. The issue is that developers – in France anyway – don’t like being told when to arrive in the morning: you arrive early, you leave early, you arrive late, you leave late !

But not anymore: with the SCRUM daily meetings, everyone needs to arrive more or less at the same time every morning (talk about freedom !). And if you arrive too early, you just wait for everyone while checking your favorite websites.Why ? Because it takes a while for you to get “in the zone” … and you don’t want to be interrupted during that time right ?

Did you clean your room honey ?

Then, let’s talk about the famous 3 questions: “What did I do yesterday ? What will I do today ? Do I have any impediments ?

Sounds like what my mum was asking me when I was 5 years old. “Well, yesterday at school, I learnt how to write my name. And today, I’m going to do some painting… but it’s hard: can you help me mommy ?“.

On top of this, the need to setup a meeting to learn what my collegues are working on feels so wrong to me. As the member of a team, I happen to know what people are working on just by talking to them during coffee/lunch breaks. Also, reading SVN commits comments is a great way to keep an eye on what people are doing.

Join up, they said! It’s a man’s life, they said!

Finally, I’ve always liked testing new software components. This is a way for me to learn new stuff, which is always exciting… and it keeps me motivated.

The problem with the daily meetings is that you cannot say things like: “well, yesterday I finished working on the billing component and today I’m going to spend a couple hours studying this new PDF rendering library because it looks very cool, even if this is something that has nothing to do with the backlog“.

So why don’t I like standup meetings ?

  • because I don’t want to be told exactly when to arrive in the morning.
  • because I don’t want to wait for everyone to arrive before being able to really start coding.
  • because I don’t need a daily meeting to know who is working on what (I’m a social guy and I use coffee breaks and lunchs to talk about that !)
  • because I don’t need to scream for help: I know who can help me if I’m stucked.
  • because I’m big boy !

Laurent KUBASKI

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41 Responses to Why I hate SCRUM daily stand-up meetings

  1. Isn’t micromanagement wonderful 🙂

    Paul.

  2. mastro says:

    The truth is that there are a LOT of people that don’t need daily meeting, but there are a LOT of other people that need them because they don’t read commit messages, they don’t talk of work at coffe time, sometimes they don’t even work in the same city and do the daily meeting from remote.

    Sometimes part of the team is not technical and do not even know how to use SVN/Git/Whatever. (Graphical designers, etc…)

    It’s perfectly fine for you to study new libraries and things like that as long as you do your homework and do not miss deadline, you are a lucky one to have the time to do so DURING WORK.

    If you feel unconfortable to say you are going to study a PDF library today then you know you shouldn’t be, which means daily meeting is useful to avoid you drifting away from your duty and gets the job done.

    Don’t like it? talk with your boss asking for time to study, do not point your finger on the daily meeting.

    There are jobs where you have to arrive on time, no matter what and if you are late of 5 minutes twice you are called by your boss. Again, you are lucky. Anyway nobody said you have to do the daily meeting at 8:00 AM, you can just schedule it to 10:00 AM every day.

    “You are doing it wrong.”

    • John says:

      “There are jobs where you have to arrive on time”. These other Jobs you speak of are certainly not as hard and stressfull as software development, and if they are they pay a lot more.

    • Drew Eckhardt says:

      “There are jobs where you have to arrive on time, no matter what and if you are late of 5 minutes twice you are called by your boss. Again, you are lucky. Anyway nobody said you have to do the daily meeting at 8:00 AM, you can just schedule it to 10:00 AM every day.”

      Those jobs have fixed ending times too. Their employees don’t work on “critical” issues until forced to sleep some time after midnight. Their employees don’t work after other people left the office so they can get work done without interrupts.

  3. matt says:

    Don’t you think some people *do* need the discipline, hand-holding and “forced guidance”, though? Not everybody socialize with the other team members, and often times people can be shy, not daring to ask for help (especially juniors in some cultures). SCRUM dailies are not meant for autonomous people, IMHO, rather the opposite.

  4. James says:

    We’ve dropped our daily standups on many projects once we get to the point that the team know what each other are doing instinctively but that is not always the case, so we have continued to use them successfully.

    While you may be able to ask for help when you get stuck not, assuming everyone behaves exactly like you is wrong. Some people unless prompted will continue to dither until they have read all of twitter. Having a meeting when you have people like this on the team ensures people aren’t procrastinating for any longer than a day and forces them to speak up.

    So yeah it’s not the be all and end all… Only do it if you need it and stop worrying so much.

  5. Massic says:

    Daily Meeting time is decided by the team at “inception” time, not imposed by SM or PO. For example we do it al 10.00am. I hope everyone is up and running at that time 😉
    If you arrive at office earlier, of course you can start coding, yoiu dont have to wait for the DM to start coding 😉
    Usually during coffee breaks people dont talk ( and DONT HAVE to talk ) about tasks and impediment. IMHO coffee break must be a pause from work, time for kidding and chatting.
    An impediment is not a “scream for help”, is just a way to inform SM and PO about that.
    Last but not the least, we are all big and professional guys, PO and SM are not your parents, DM is just a little moment in the working day where you inform everyone about what you are gonna doing and about issues or iompediment you have. Nothing more than this.
    My 2 cents …

  6. Mike Pearce says:

    Teamsnippets.com helps with most of those. Ditch the three questions and just do what’s valuable to you and your team.

  7. jD says:

    Are there fair and balance reports on what SCRUM really improves? … in the software development arena. Anything, productivity, quality, creativity, etc.

    I would like to know the costs of Scrum too. Costs associated to the “daily meetings”, per developer, per team, per project. per company and IT companies.

    It would be great to associate a $$$ cost to SCRUM (an estimation of course) since its inception.

    It would be interesting to know the cost/benefit of SCRUM. Don’t you think?

    Thank you
    jD @ http://pragmatikroo.blogspot.com

  8. mehmet yilmaz says:

    agreed.
    The morning meetings are nothing but pain.
    At least why dont you at least sit down for gods sake !!

  9. Greg Brown says:

    “Don’t you think some people *do* need the discipline, hand-holding and “forced guidance”, though?”

    Yes. But this suggests that different resources need different management styles, and that applying the same style to all team members may not be the most effective.

  10. “On top of this, the need to setup a meeting to learn what my collegues are working on feels so wrong to me.”

    Agreed. If you are a good team that already finds ways to get together and talk about what’s important, a formal meeting is a waste of time. Sitting in a common area where this can happen throughout the day can make it even less useful.

    Having said that, it’s great starter discipline, and can be useful in environments where it’s not easy to get people together (I’ve been in places where I wasted way too much time trying to track people down or when my attempts to discuss things were rebuffed by people who were “too busy”). I’d start a new team on daily standups, but would push the team to find ways to eliminate the need for them once they got better at working together.

    Also, most shops that run daily scrums and don’t get much out of them aren’t collaborating enough. It becomes one person reporting status, while the others worry about what they’re going to say when it’s their turn (because “that stuff” has little to do with what they’re doing). If that’s the case, you may as well revert to people sending an email with their status to the project manager, who gathers and emails a summary of what’s important to the team.

    But…that’s not what works best in agile (or lean). http://www.langrsoft.com/blog/2007/12/stories-and-tedium-of-daily-standups.html

  11. Octavian says:

    I love you man, even if you are French 😉

  12. Pingback: Why I hate SCRUM daily stand-up meetings | Open Source Code | Scoop.it

  13. Pingback: How’s Your Daily Standup Working for You? | langrsoft.com

  14. Pingback: When do you study new technologies ? « The skying cube

  15. shvillalba says:

    Right on!!! (& assume there are 1000 of these “!” at the end of those last two words) … I absolutely hated scrum, and believe is the one thing that has made this (formerly) (very) productive software Engineer to be absolutely turned off by his profession. I’m working on a related field now, of course, but this B.S. every morning made what used to be an interesting day seem like slave labor.

    • Raj says:

      That is hwo I am feeling now…my company started this shit recently….totally hate it. Basically it is a daily status meeting that adds no value to the development process…It could be achieved by fewer meetings or just a e-mail to management every day….

  16. Raj says:

    I hated scrum meetings. It is a great tool for managers to micro manage developers and kill their creativity.

  17. Chard says:

    I guess you don’t need to be in a team because it’s all “I” for you.

  18. Ben says:

    The only people that will defend scrum are the project/program managers justifying their employment. Over 2 years of soul sucking scrum experience here….feel your pain bro

  19. Anon Guy says:

    I’m a developer with over 10 years of experience and I’ve been doing scrum for the past year. Hate it… but everyone is doing it these days. Only escape is to leave the profession.

  20. KenSAPGuy says:

    I know that this an old post, but I wanted to comment anyway. Generally, I find that the biggest defenders of the daily scrum meetings are managers. A large percentage of a manager’s job is tracking status. By contrast, developers are most productive when ‘In the Zone’. Those are the times when developers are most productive, most creative, and most content. You can browse the web and the library for several articles on this subject.

    The reality is daily status meetings will destroy the productivity of your developers as well as make them miserable. Your experienced and seasoned developers don’t need to have a daily checkpoint. They know what they’re working on and should know when to solicit help. Keep that type of status for your junior folks that need a little more guidance.

    Status meetings should be no more frequent than once a week. Included in that meeting should be any organizational information that should be passed on to your team. On top of these weekly meetings, have your developers send you a weekly status report. As a manager, read the status reports and identify any items that you need to follow up on with specific developers. That way, you don’t have your other developers listening to a 10 minute status on a work item that has absolutely nothing to do with what they’re working on. You’re managing developers, so you have and need a bigger picture view. Making sure your developers understand that bigger picture view once a week is plenty enough.

    Follow up directly with any developers that you feel are not accurately reporting status. In other words, keep your developers working on what you pay them for. Oh and here’s a little secret, most of them genuinely enjoy doing this work.

    It is YOUR job as a manager to track status and remove any obstacles in the way of your developers’ productivity. You have more power as a manager to streamline processes and communicate the needs of your team to the wider organization. USE IT! Your developers don’t need that big picture view daily. Weekly is plenty.

    I’ve been both a developer and a manager, so I can relate to needing status as a manager, but being frustrated by too much status as a developer. So, you need to be smart about it. Most of what I said is just plain old common sense.

  21. marge says:

    People that need scrum-hand holding and discipline are not ready for the work force. I don’t hand hold my plumber or store clerk or mail man. Give me a break.

  22. Don says:

    I see your point. I am in the midst of implementing Scrum for my team and I am planning on holding daily SCRUM just prior to lunch (we all take lunch together). I don’t want the morning to get off with the wrong start with something even potentially irritating.
    As for the threee questions, I see them as a way for team members to off-load impediments (to me) and to share information and identify opportunities for collaboration where appropriate. I do not intend to track status too closely except where the goals are in danger of not being met. However, this will take vigilance on my part to avoid the process degenerating into, as you say, mommy asking if the room has been cleaned yet….we’ll see how it goes.

    • Phil says:

      Sounds like you’re on the right track to me.

      What I believe you really need for any process is buy in from both managers and developers. Most managers only think they need buy in from themselves and the devs will bend to their will.
      A much better way is to negotiate it. If devs don’t like status meetings, then tell them your concerns, “I need to be able to monitor the progress of you guys somehow so I can tell if we’re on track. That being my job and all.” Then let them suggest other ways of notifying status.
      If everyone’s honest this usually works out well (in my experience, anyway) since the devs have now bought in to their own process. You only then have to watch out for the following “bad apples”:
      – the legacy dev: “I’ve been here longer than any of you so we should do it my way ‘cos that’s what I’ve been doing for ages and I’m used to it even though the rest of you hate it, I don’t care. I’m also best friends with the CEO’s brother-in-law and will screw you all if I don’t get my way.”
      – the bully dev/manager: “My way is best and I’M WILLING TO SHOUT AT YOU ALL TO GET MY WAY!”
      – the shy dev: “I noticed something critically bad just happened but I don’t want to say anything because I’ll just get shot down or it’ll end up being my fault.”
      – the lazy dev: “I don’t like being forced to update my status because I don’t like drawing attention to the fact I didn’t do anything yesterday.”

      Constant evaluation of the process really helps too. What was working really well last month might not be relevant any more at this stage of the project. That’s not to say making sweeping changes all the time – just little “tweaks”.

  23. Evan says:

    I have found stand-ups to be useful when done right. But they almost never are, and a stand-up done wrong is absolute misery.

    I’d like to see the following rules added to the traditional stand-up:

    1. Do the stand-up by project, not by team. If one person on your team is working on project X and everyone else is on project Y, the person doing project X should not be in your stand-up. You don’t need daily status updates for something you yourself are not working on. If everyone on your team is on a different project, you don’t need a stand-up. (Also, why are you a team?)

    2. No one person should talk for more than a minute and there should be no discussion of anything. Got a question? Got help for someone dealing with an obstacle? Take it offline. A stand-up should last about 5 minutes most of the time. If it goes over 10 more than once a month, stop doing stand-ups. Just stop. You’re doing more harm than good.

    3. Quit standing up. It makes it uncomfortable in both the physical and the social sense, which is no way to kick off the workday. The theory that people will keep their stand-ups short in order to avoid that discomfort is hogwash; it doesn’t work that way. Plus, you may have people with disabilities for whom a stand-up meeting is not just uncomfortable but painful or damaging.

    4. If you’re not working on the project yourself in some capacity, you better have a damn good reason to be there. Team bonds are built by being in the trenches together. If you aren’t in the trenches, you’re not part of the team. A stand-up is so people working together can help each other out and keep informed. It’s not a status update for the benefit of upper management, other departments, or customers. If you do have to be there, keep your trap shut. See #2.

    5. No, seriously. Absolutely no more than ten minutes. Most days no more than five. I’m not kidding.

  24. Dave says:

    I have done scrum in a single office without daily standups but just the start and end sprint, it worked very well.
    I have done defect fixing with a daily standup but no start and end sprint plans (pointless when you are fixing bugs that may arrive today as urgent…) again it worked very well.
    Lastly I have done the full shebang when working with teams geographically distributed. True the turning up on time is a pain, true the remote teams often have a meeting half way through their day, but despite this it has also worked very well, in fact it has been pretty near vital to ensure that the different team members talk to each other. These are kept very short, even with a bit of chit chat none of this mornings 8 standups (I have a horrible diary) took more than 10 minutes and 6 of them were under 5 (ok the teams are quite small, normally around 5 or 6.)

    I think the lesson I take is that no method is a silver bullet for all situations, choose the method for the situation, try it, and maybe later it may change. I think the current daily standups could well be redundant in 6 months time when the teams are really ‘gelled’ and talk using IM and phone.

  25. Most people love to be managed by their moms, even when they are 50 years old… It’s great you don’t feel that way 🙂

  26. agile is the new waterfall says:

    I am still amazed at how my coworkers who do not produce any work and can still get by such standup everyday. Everyday they will say “I was working on this yesterday and will keep working on this today”. The manager does not check progress and hold these people accountable and a task that is supposed to be done in a couple days will stretch out to 2 weeks or even months. What a waste of time.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Scrum and many of its likes are created by people who are lousy at programming but wanted to create a job/business opportunity within IT.

    It was also created to accommodate bloody immature unqualified slackers in the technical team, who very frankly would do the rest of the team a favor by staying out of the team.

    “there are 2 types of people in IT : those that can program and those that can’t”.

  28. Sun says:

    In my experience, daily scrum is a big waste of company’s valuable time and money, since the only people it benefits are those that have no other skill set to get a job. These people you will always find performing the role of scrum master or the master of the scrum master. Scrum does not motivate serious and sincere developers, but rather demotivates them. Controlling matured and intelligent developers like grade 1 school kids is not going to help bring out the best in them.

  29. Yuval says:

    Guess what? The daily meeting is not just for you!

    And by the way, it is ok not to like it,
    as long as you understand why it makes sense:

    In scrum, which is agile, you go through 2-4 week sprints (which is not a very long time to develop something and make it shippable), so it is very important to keep touch on a daily basis with the product owner, manager and other people involved, to ensure the sprint is on track.

    On coffee breaks?
    Not good enough, the scrum meeting makes it official, while on syncing with people on breaks may leave loose ends.
    It’s not just about who is working on what, but also to clarify stuff.
    What if person A is working on something, which person C has already implemented, and they did not get a cup of coffee together?

    In addition, who said it has to be in the morning?
    It can be on any time of day, as long as it is the same time every day.

    Also, I think exploring new techs is awsome, and contributes to the team.
    You should keep doing that, talk with your scrum master on allocating 5% of your capacity for it.

  30. kranzorz says:

    I 100% agree about the demotivational aspect and how it treats members of the team like children. Every morning, I waste my time repeating the same pointless information to others and ignoring what they have to say since it’s not relavant to my job. The ritual aspect of it sucks the life out of the spontaneity that breeds new ideas, helpful solutions and employee morale. I’m sure there’s a benefit to the agile/scrum system for some people, but for others like myself it is soul-crushing. “It’s only 15 minutes a day” they say. Add that up, and it becomes 20+ minutes (with congregating and straying off-topic), which adds up to almost two hours of B.S. a week during time that I could be producing work. If this is the state of the career, then I’ll start looking for another.

    • Our team spends 6 hours a week on scrum meetings. Pure hell.

    • Tim Baffa says:

      It seems a lot of the resistance to the Daily Scrum is individually-based.

      If there isn’t an approach to team development of work, then it is a waste of time. If there is a dysfunctional Scrum practice within an organization, where team members continue to work in isolation and specialized silos, then people will be unhappy and Scrum is doomed to fail.

      I would only point out that practicing bad Scrum does not mean that Scrum is pointless or does not work. If you aren’t really changing anything except adding a bunch of new meetings to the calendar, then you simply are not “getting it”.

      Keep in mind that there are many companies that are practicing good Scrum, and their productivity and morale has increased several-fold.

  31. D says:

    I am so totally with you. Scpcum, er I mean scrum, is a total abomination. It is micromanagement. But they can’t say that. But they can say scrum. I hate it very much, just like you.

    • Managers must be laughing their asses off. “We introduced some stupid concept for stupid programmers to micromanage themselves…and they are killing themselves to please us”

  32. Pingback: Langr Software Solutions » How’s Your Daily Standup Working for You?

  33. Adam says:

    I don’t like daily standup for similar reasons. Do I need to be looked after like an elementary school kid? “Yesterday I did blablabla. Today I am going to blablabla…”. I am in my late 20s!
    Secondly, I don’t want to look at their faces each morning. I come to work not to look at people’s face. But in the standup, I have to look at 40 year old face.

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