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Whose Standup Is It?
By Johanna Rothman

Esther and I were teaching a Behind Closed Doors tutorial at Better Software yesterday. One of the participants was a program manager. He couldn’t see the value of the standup meetings the Scrum teams used every day. “They talk to each other all the time–why do they need the standup? I can’t see the value.”

That’s because the standup has little or no value for a program manager. The value is all for the team. The standup is where the team recommits to each other–every day. The standup is where the team can build burnup or burndown charts (with virtually no overhead). The standup provides the team, not just the Scrum Master, with early warning signs the project is stalled (e.g. if someone consistently misses deliverable dates, or if related features were mis-sized).

The standup is too granular a level for the program manager. (Especially if the program manager really is managing several interconnected projects or several releases.) I asked the program manager if he received the data he needed from the team–and he did. He wanted to save the team the less than 15 minutes a day they spent on their Scrum. I suggested he stop going to the standups altogether. Less than 15 minutes a day is a small price to pay for receiving early-early warning signs of project problems.

If you’re attending standups, and you’re not part of the product development team–the people developing the product– are you receiving any information you really need? If you stopped attending, what would happen to the project? (Hint: it might go faster, because no one will be inhibited by your attendance. The team will discover problems earlier and fix them earlier.)

Johanna Rothman consults, speaks, and writes on managing high-technology product development. Johanna is the author of Manage It!’Your Guide to Modern Pragmatic Project Management’. She is the coauthor of the pragmatic Behind Closed Doors, Secrets of Great Management, and author of the highly acclaimed Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets and Science of Hiring Technical People. And, Johanna is a host and session leader at the Amplifying Your Effectiveness (AYE) conference (http://www.ayeconference.com). You can see Johanna’s other writings at http://www.jrothman.com.

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