A Case to Replace Daily Standups With Texting
About a year ago, we had daily standups with our small team, just the four or five of us. Like most scrum meetings, we started with the same three questions. What are you working on today? What did you do yesterday? What's one problem or obstacle that you're having?
And like clockwork, three or four times a week these little 15-minute standups would go over time, or someone would veer them off-topic with a miscellaneous question, and we found that the stand-up would lead into another hour or two (or sometimes three) of meetings based on topics stemming from the standup.
On the surface, that's great -- we're transparently talking about issues as a group, after all. But for me, as a task-oriented, high Follow-Thru team member, I got stressed out whenever this happened. All I could think was, "Oh man, I am out of my inbox, and I can't work on anything," for up to half a day sometimes.
As I've shared before, my morning is the most productive part of my day. Accordingly, these morning meetings were absolutely catastrophic for my confidence. I thought, "For half of my day, I'm not even doing the things I'm being paid to do; I'm in meetings." And while helping my teammates solve their problems is a valuable activity in itself, it didn't scale well with my workload.
So we cut them out. We moved the daily standup to a weekly dashboard review, and in place of the standups, we embraced a free-form approach. We shared our calendars, and just texted each other as questions, problems or ideas came up. Sometimes we'd jump right on the phone; other times, we handled everything via text.
The results were amazing. Not only did we get things done faster, both individually and as a team, but we also all felt better. We weren't rallying to try and meet at one time that was convenient for the group -- we were just asking each other questions as they came up naturally and connecting with each other as the workday allowed.
In startups, it's almost expected that you have some form of daily pow-wow, but at least in my case, asynchronous communication wins out.