Monday, February 17, 2014

The Daily Scrum

I have a strong bias against heavy process, in favor of closer communications, which allows you to 'blow out' of the process trap.  

None of this is theoretical.  I have seen brilliant, well-thought out process to create new products.  They have been lead by intelligent, capable and motivated managers with full buy-in from teams.

I've just never seen it work.  Process inevitably becomes a trap.  It's something that allows people to shut of their minds, stop making great products and think, "well, I'm following the process." None of this is necessarily lazy or with evil intentions; it's by design.  For example, "I'll push my code because the process is that Q/A tests it once I get it working."  Or, "that's a great idea, but I can't do it because our sprint/train started and we can't re-prioritize for another two weeks."  Or, "that would be great, but the CFO only allows budget updates quarterly, so maybe next quarter..."  And, then, well, there are the other cases.

One of the few process steps I recommend is a daily scrum.  It's a simple daily meeting where:
  - Everyone says what they did yesterday and what they're doing today in 90 seconds or less
  - It starts on time, irrespective of who is there
  - The goal is to identify when people should communicate (e.g., Oh, I did some work there a few weeks ago) and that no one is repeating work/doing something unknown
  - If people start trying to solve a problem, others need to ask them, "Great conversation, take it after the meeting."
  - Only people who have something to say should speak.  (there's more theory here on pigs/chickens if you're interested in googling)

The result is a fast meeting (under 10 minutes) where no one looks at his/her phone, and we identify any areas of coordination.  It also gives transparency into what everyone is working on and serves as a performance manager too (e.g., if someone is always doing the same thing and not making progress....).

We have even extended this to non-technical functions and found it tremendously useful.  It also leverages a focused/fast team, which is super important when you're a start-up!

So, I'm busy from 8:00-8:10 every morning.  As is the rest of the team.




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