Buy @ Amazon

Search This Blog

May 19, 2013

Why I hate the ceremonial daily stand-up?

Ceremonial: a system of ceremonies, rites, or formalities prescribed for or observed on any particular occasion; a rite.
Ceremonies, in my humble observation, are mostly followed blindly and hence poorly - such is the order of the day. Whom do we blame for it? I would blame both the institution of practice for not thinking of methods to aid understanding the purpose of the ritual and the materialistic folks who take the easy route of not experimenting/practicising the ritual with an open mind and find/seek reasoning.
This pattern is observed in the work places too. People take the convenient route to idleness, and devil's workshop. No matter what methodology of practice is prescribed, people always have the tendency to find fault rather than value in it; Agile is no exception to it. Take the case of every-day stand-ups, I have seen it becoming dysfunctional in teams, sooner or later.
In this post, I'm intending to jotting down my observations that I made over the years, on the institutionalized practice of every-day stand-ups.
Lack of preparation
    You can witness team members quoting something like, "I'm hating our stand-up because it really isn't organized. Somebody interrupts me when I'm giving my update, to mention some damn forgotton thing. ##ck can't he come prepared for the stand-up". One other recurring pattern is, "Why does she always come to the stand-up and thinks of her update just when its her turn? Man, this is so so silly."        
Poor communication
    This is especially common in a team of diverse people coming from different backgrounds. Good news is, of all the problems, this one is execusable for some period of time, because it has got nothing to do with attitude but with ones ability and adaptability. Classical example is when a team comprises of multi-cultural people where each individual attempts to give its update in a common language that everyone understands but in their own native accent. This is sheer fun to watch from outside, and a great experience from inside, to both learn and adapt. But, until that point of learning and adaption, it is a pain.    
Story-telling
    Every-time a person gives a detailed update, it sets the others off from listening not just to his update but to other subsequent updates as well. This one is truly a weed, that crops up anytime during the lifetime of a project, and if unattended, it drains the energy out of the team members.   
In-fighting
    When internal politics in the team is unckecked, it reaches a point where people wait for an occasion to settle scores, and stand-up becomes one avenue for it.    
Immaturity
    A lack of conscious discipline to stick to the purpose of the meeting results in people deviating by cracking light jokes, passing intermittent comments quite often, or doing anything that is irrelevant to the agenda of the stand-up.   
Lack of Punctuality
    It is not uncommon to see people checking into the stand-up just when it started or in the middle of it, citing traffic, or any other lame reason.
Absenteeism
    This is the manifestation of extreme lack of discipline/commitment/interest/motivation with-in the team/person. Again, it need not be the absentee who is to be blamed, it could well be the team's way of functioning that is to be introspected for corrective measures.
Building upon this post as basis, I'll soon post ways to get over these maladies.
Update: As a sequence to this post, I have put up a post titled, "How I started to enjoy the daily ceremonial stand-up?". Read on...