Have you seen scrum master / coach calling off standups once 15 minutes are elapsed irrespective of whether there are still some cards to be discussed (in walk the wall style) or few team members yet to sync up (in round robin style)?

Lets get it right. Should daily standups be less than 15 minutes? YES. Should it be forcefully timeboxed to 15 mins by Scrum Master or Agile Coach. NO.

Here’s why and how:

  1. How does a scrum master / coach empower the team and instills self-organization if he doesn’t allow the team to decide and exercise their rights around daily standup? If scrum master / coach is the one who decides how long the stand up should go on and when it should end, then the subconscious message sent across is that team is unable to decide for themselves, that they are still learning and hence scrum master / coach will decide for them till they mature and that whatever is being shared in the standup is NOT more important that adhering to the scrum process. Hmm… sounds like processes over individuals and interactions.
  2. Yea, there are some who would argue using ShuHaRi model. The team is in Shu state and does not know how to self-organise. Hence until they get it, it is scrum master’s / coach’s responsibility to enforce. But I disagree. A scrum master / coach is better off bringing in awareness of time, settings, people, energy, emotions, feelings in the room etc… by the team, to the team and let the team decide for themselves rather than him (or anyone else / any process / guideline) deciding for them.
  3. Some days / weeks / sprints, standups / knowledge sharing / sync ups might also take more time because there is more information to be shared / tighter sync up required. For example in sprints / days nearing releases, or when a major impediment is affecting team progress, missing or new team members… so it really depends. Let the team decide.
  4. Another argument might be that the standups are only for sync up and not for team building / knowledge sharing. I agree. Using this argument, many coaches forces standups for sync up only and ask the team to setup other knowledge sharing meeting later after the standup. This is a good idea. However forcing it on teams is not. If the information shared during the standup is not for everyone someone from the team will call it out. Some would sit. Some would lean on the wall. Some sit on the floor. some go onto their mobiles. Team is sending their signals. Coach can make his team aware of these signals (if they are not already seeing it) and open the space for the team to decide what they want to do collectively. Deciding for the team is not coaching.
  5. You just hold the space as a coach. However space is owned by the team not you. Also sometimes allowing them to spend time during standups eliminates the need to have other kind of meetings after the standup. Uhhmm have I read this statement before? Oh yes, in scrum guide.
  6. Finally, I think it boils down to this. Imagine a scenario. You meet your childhood friend say after 20 years ago. How much would you talk to him when compared to someone you work with day in day out from past 2 years? Of course you would talk more with your childhood friend, isn’t it? Well how many hours? Say 4 hours a day? How many days? Say full first week? Ok. So full first week you and your friend chatting 4 hours daily. How about second week? Would you talk 4 hours daily second week as well? No? Probably less right? Say 2 hours? Third week? 30 mins? Say 4th week? 15 mins? Uhmm he now seems more like the person whom you work with day in day out. Right? Exactly the point. If team members are meeting after a long time, they have too much to discuss. Let the conversations happen. Some of it might not be work. It’s ok. Human’s talk beyond work. Humans exists beyond work. They are building network and mapping their brains and digesting information. Let it happen. 4 hours a day, first week. 2 hours a day second week. 30 mins a day third week and it falls down to 15 min a day fourth week. Standups naturally take maximum 15 mins when team has transformed into a team, once they have shared enough with each other. It is a natural progression and it cannot be forced.

This is just my opinion. What do you guys think? How have you helped team own the standup? How? Any tips tricks you would like to share?

2 thoughts on “Idea Of Forcing Daily Standup To 15 Minutes Is Nonsense!

  1. Very interesting view on a daily standup. I like that the people can decide, however in Shu stage there should be original rules of the game, which are providing a sort of predictability in the lake of uncertainty. Self-organization can happen, but not without boundaries or limits. I think that 15 minute time-boxes is important aspect of self-organization to keep the people’s energy for the entire day. I see pretty much sense to set 15-minutes rule for daily standup. But I never really had to force it, when it is facilitated properly.

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