An Irritable Programmer Calls 911

Operator: Please state the nature of your emergency.

Programmer: I need immediate assistance.

Operator: Are you injured?

Programmer: Look lady, I don’t want to turn this into a status meeting.

Status is Not Stupid

I’ve noticed people saying the word “status” with scorn: “Now, instead of getting work done we’re just reporting on status.”

In fact, I’ve heard people use the s-word to complain about stand-up meetings that had team mates reporting to each other on what they got done and what they were going to work on.

Teamwork: It’s Better Together

I’ve particularly noticed this sort of dislike on teams that are really more like bundles of developers: I work on my thing, you work on yours, and each has nothing to do with the other.

However you describe it, the daily stand-up (or scrum) meeting is for the team to understand where they are, see what needs working on, and make a plan for the next day of work.

I’ve found that a team really shines when teammates work on related things together rather than independent things apart.

If you find yourself dreading stand-up then maybe your team is in a rut. In late 2011 I felt like my team’s stand-up had lost their edge.

It seemed that people felt an obligation to talk for a certain amount of time just to justify what they did yesterday. I also felt like we were spending time in the meeting doing bookkeeping that could have been done before hand.

I was the scrum master at the time so I wrote up this guide to shake things up for a few days.

Stand-up For Today

Don’t Do This:

  1. What I did yesterday.
  2. What I’m doing today.
  3. How I am blocked

Do Do This

  1. What did I do or learn that will probably affect others?
  2. What will I do that affects others?
  3. What is impeding me?
  4. How can I help others today?

Assumptions That Make This OK

  • Everyone is working their hardest.
  • We’re all keeping the scrum board up to date.

Insist on Fast Paced Status

You can absolutely have a productive stand-up using the traditional questions (The ones I struck out above.) I just found we were in a rut. We were talking about ourselves individually in a group setting instead of focusing on the team aspect.

Stooping for Pennies Loses the Crown

I’m on a scrum team. In sprint retrospective many members of the team share a concern that the team isn’t moving as fast as it could. Things seem to have slowed down. We brain storm as a team.  We look closer at the coming sprint’s plan. The Product Owner considers the team’s concerns and throws some stories overboard. One of them looks like an Easy Story. The product owner is getting business pressure to ship it. To give the team time to address concerns they raised in retro he throws it overboard.

“But wait,” one optimistic developer says. “That’s an easy story. We can still do that.”

“I’m not going to tell you guys everything to work on. Use your judgment. If it only takes a quick conversation then I’d love to have it. But I’m not committing you to it.”

All my dreams have come true. A Product Owner that gives clear direction, latitude, and cares about craftsmanship.

The next day. Stand-up. Will the Product Owner’s generosity be rewarded?

Continue reading Stooping for Pennies Loses the Crown