The daily standup is for the team.

“Sucks” rules

Something I like to do regularly to keep my brain “agile” is to take something I like, add the word “sucks” to it, and Google the result. I found this on a search for “Agile development sucks”: Your Daily Scrum Is Killing Your Team, by J.B. Rainsberger. I didn’t know about J.B.’s work until now, but I’ll try to catch up.

The whole article is good, but this part stood out for me:

Your Daily Scrum could actually stop killing your team, but only if they know what problem it’s trying to solve, and only if they don’t have a better solution in mind.

This is at the end of a moderately long description of a common scenario in which a team is doing Scrum but not getting any value out of that “Daily Scrum” meeting. If you’ve worked in such a shop you know what he means. You have to drag people to show up, it commonly goes into bickering, and it’s generally not about problem solving.

J.B.’s solution is brilliant: take the meeting away and see if anyone misses it.

He then goes on to describe the circumstances under which you might want to bring it back, and how. The key point here though is that the “Daily Scrum” (which I usually just refer to as “the standup”) is for the team. It is not for the team’s manager, nor for that person’s manager, and it’s not for the client or customer.

If a daily standup is time-consuming and merely annoying, then let’s not do it. And if the team starts to feel a need to check in once a day to identify obstacles and keep moving forward, then by all means have a daily standup.

What you should definitely not do…

…is keep having a daily standup meeting “so Arun knows what we’re working on” or “because Pam might have to make adjustments.” No. If as management you aren’t okay with the team self-organizing for the length of a sprint, that is fine but then you are not doing Scrum and you are arguably anti-Agile. That is a valid choice for shops that want day-by-day control of the work. But then everyone’s better off if you drop the pretext of Agile practices.


Five years later, I’m rereading this post and thinking of this video that came along around the same time. Maybe it’s a good idea to “walk the board” rather than put each person on the spot with Three Questions. It’s a departure from standard Scrum practice, but I’m not at all sure that’s a deal breaker.