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Ask Slashdot: Are Daily Stand-Up Meetings More Productive?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the leveling-up-your-agility dept.

Businesses 445

__roo writes "The Wall Street Journal reports that an increasing number of companies are replacing traditional meetings with daily stand-ups. The article points out that stand-up meetings date back to at least World War I, and that in some place, late employees 'sometimes must sing a song like "I'm a Little Teapot," do a lap around the office building or pay a small fine.' Do Slashdot readers feel that stand-up meetings are useful? Do they make a difference? Are they a gimmick?"

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of course! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38923813)

just like going to class is the only way to learn ...

Re:of course! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38924037)

Yes, except at my company I noticed a curious trend. Meeting invited employees have developed a spontaneous order of arriving to meetings in inverse order of seniority. The highest seniority employees often don't even arrive at work till a half to full hour after they declared the meeting to start.

Curious (5, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38923823)

It's curious that they mention the military first doing stand-up meetings - when i was in the military, you stood up only when you were about to fall asleep, but that's all that needs to be said about that.

In the civilian world, if you have meetings every day, it's because your boss or some other important idiot is a bottleneck in the process and they need daily reinforcement of common sense, at the expense of department productivity.

Re:Curious (4, Insightful)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38923865)

In the civilian world, if you have meetings every day, it's because your boss or some other important idiot is a bottleneck in the process and they need daily reinforcement of common sense, at the expense of department productivity.

Alternatively, it's a great way for a manager to enforce office hours on their should-be-flexible-schedule programmers if they set it early in the morning, but then that just bottles down again to "a manager who insists on micromanaging everything, and being a bottleneck".

Re:Curious (1)

Cerberus7 (66071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38923927)

Holy crap, that's a scary idea (the early morning meeting hour enforcement thingy). I will consider myself fortunate that the worst I ever got was a demand to stand up during the "weekly huddle."

Re:Curious (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38924009)

I love the pic circulating around the net. It shows one of those backscatter x-ray photos - the kind that lets you see the bones like a normal x-ray but you also see the semitransparent flesh. So anyway this pic has two x-ray photos side by side. One is a very morbidly obese person (undoubtedly American), the other is a slim person. You'll never guess what! The bones are the same size.

"I'm big boned!" Yeah sure, cuz we all know bone is jiggly and shaped like rolls of fat. On the plus side (no not plus-sized), that's one more excuse put into the grave where it belongs.

See fatties, this is really for your own good. It's called tough love. The harder it is for you to make stupid excuses that anybody with sense already knew was bogus, the more likely you are to face your terrible lack of discipline, and your inability to make simple connections like the connection between eating more calories than you burn (also known as "eating too much") and gaining weight. That's what all the lame excuses are for, because your gluttonous pride can't stand to admit just how much control you do have over it and just how much you actively chose to be what you are - fat.

Once you finally stop making dumb excuses that would insult the intelligence of a retarded dog, you can start taking constructive action to take control of your own life, lose weight, and generally stop failing at life by blaming your faults on something other than yourself. Maybe you could also realize that before you were 100 pounds overweight, you were 80 pounds overweight and before that you were 50 pounds overweight and before that you were 25 pounds overweight, and that was more than enough to think "say, this is moving in the wrong direction, if I keep doing the same thing I'll keep getting the same result, maybe I should change my lifestyle right now before this really gets out of control!"

Obesity is adult people who cannot admit they made a choice. That's why obesity is a form of mental retardation. Unlike most, it's reversible.

Re:Curious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38924087)

Not always a bottle-neck from above. Take my last job. Some of the department heads at my last job were cliquey to the point they would ignore other departments unless a problem they ignored snowballed into their domain. A third needs to be told important matters at said meetings so there are witnesses. Otherwise people tend to "forget" to tell him things. Another department head was "fired" in an email in a test run to see if a reporting system could replace the meetings. They never noticed. It wasn't enforced, but showed the powers-that-be that they needed to do some baby sitting.

Re:Curious (5, Insightful)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924267)

I think a better way to go would be to stop inviting everyone from the top down to meetings that could be better served via email, or even IM. I find a don't pay attention to meetings that have little to no affect on my daily work yet they continue to invite me regardless, 'just in case' or because it's a major announcement for some VP who is changing departments, or some tweak to benefits, etc. I also get invited to technical meetings for various topics on projects I am only peripherally working on yet I'm on the invite list for every meeting regardless. They would be better served inviting key folks and let the disperse the info as needed rather than inviting people who's time is better spent getting work done.

As to the 'gimmick', yes it might wake people up, but it will also make them irritable, rebellious, and take them out of the proper productive frame of mind that often generates good ideas.

Re:Curious (5, Interesting)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 2 years ago | (#38923883)

In the civilian world, if you have meetings every day, it's because your boss or some other important idiot is a bottleneck in the process and they need daily reinforcement of common sense, at the expense of department productivity.

From the article:

The current wave of stand-up meeting is being fueled by the growing use of "Agile," an approach to software development, crystallized in a manifesto published by 17 software professionals in 2001.

Which is true.

Don't be so quick to blame management. I know it's a reflex here on /., but the current craze for stand-up meetings, scrum, agile, etc., are being driven by tech staff.

Re:Curious (-1, Troll)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924011)

Oh, yeah, Agile. I was taught by a guy who was a certified SCRUM [kym-cdn.com] master and he informed us all about the joy of agile development.

He shit his pants when I called him on Dijkstra's algorithm and he didn't know, so I had to go to the whiteboard and draw it out to the class because he couldn't.

It was a software engineering class, and I was the only one who turned in an actual project, and not some Microsoft Paint mockup.

Re:Curious (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38924045)

Seriously, what does this have to do with anything?

I've read and reread it several times and it makes absolutely no sense. How are being a scrum master and knowing Dijkstra's algorithm connected in any way?

Re:Curious (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38924285)

Dijkstra's algorithm is a good litmus test of somebody's programming and software development knowledge and experience.

Anyone with any formal computer science, computer engineering, or software engineering education will know it inside out. Even many people who studied mathematics or physics will be familiar with it. It's a relatively simple algorithm that's easy to explain quickly, but it also touches on a variety of important concepts, and is quite applicable in the so-called "Real World".

Many software development professionals see it as a not-so-secret secret handshake, so to speak. If you know what you're doing, you'll find explaining it trivial. If you don't know what you're doing, you won't be able to. It's a fast way to separate those who can do from those who just talk the talk.

To be a scrum master, you should have at least this minimum level of knowledge of the field. That's where the connection comes in. Seeing if somebody knows Dijkstra's algorithm is one of the most basic and effective ways of seeing if somebody is qualified to be involved with software development.

Re:Curious (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924097)

But you understood while doing it that these are fundamentally different skill sets, right? And that both have a place in development?

Re:Curious (2)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924159)

Yes, I do understand. People who have graduated college with a computer science (or above) degree know what Dijkstra's algorithm does.

The people in the real world who understand its applications are applying it and not being fake-fuck blowhards. Agile. Extreme (pair) programmming. HAW.

Silly fuckers.

Re:Curious (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924203)

You say you understand, but then you make a statement that suggests otherwise. The problems that agile/extreme can solve are more common and worth more $$$ than the ones Dijkstra's algorithm can solve.

Re:Curious (2)

chromaexcursion (2047080) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924287)

You've missed the real problem. None of those scale. As complexity increases each of those techniques reaches a point where they fail, badly.

Yes, I do understand. People who have graduated college with a computer science (or above) degree know what Dijkstra's algorithm does. The people in the real world who understand its applications are applying it and not being fake-fuck blowhards. Agile. Extreme (pair) programmming. HAW. Silly fuckers.

Re:Curious (4, Funny)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924169)

I guess the egoless programmer part of Agile methodologies wasn't for you then.

Re:Curious (5, Funny)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924175)

You think that's bad? I had to go to the doctor the other day, and he was all "Well, let's cure that cancer of yours" (or whatever it was) and I was like "Hold on a moment, do you know Bresenham's line algorithm?

Would you believe he didn't? I had to NOT merely describe the algorithm, AND explain how to use sign changes and axies swaps to ensure any line could be drawn, but even what a damned BITMAP was. I walked right out, I wasn't going to trust HIM to heal my brain tumor.

Also the so-called plumber didn't know what a singleton was. I'm getting impatient now, I've rigged up a siphon to suck water out of the laundy room into the yard, but I haven't found a single pumber yet who knows a damned thing about programming.

Re:Curious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38924033)

LIES!

Re:Curious (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924043)

Are they being driven by tech staff within the companies affected, or some know-it-all tech staff somewhere else, like the 17 jerks who wrote that manifesto, and now these companies' managers are reading this manifesto and trying to apply it to their own organizations?

Re:Curious (5, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924089)

but the current craze for stand-up meetings, scrum, agile, etc., are being driven by tech staff.

That's daft and primitive though. The real tech way of having more productive meetings is: require most meetings to be done via text instant-messaging (IM):
That way:
1) you automatically get minutes of the meeting (the bosses could require the transcripts to be posted somewhere).
2) you can be in multiple meetings at the same time, potentially even chairing one meeting while attending a few others. Heck the bosses could attend them all, not to chime in like an idiot, but in case his/her official approval/opinion for something is required (reduce latency!).
3) you can do work and other stuff (slashdot, youtube)[1] while attending the meetings.
4) You can set "AFK", go to the toilet, come back, and scroll up to see what happened while you went AFK, without requiring everyone to recap or wait for you.

Now of course programmers generally are better off with an uninterrupted stretch for heavy-duty coding. So what bosses could do is require most/all meetings to be within a certain time range of the day. With IM meetings, it is not a showstopper if you have a few meetings scheduled for the same time.

This way bosses can squeeze even more out of employees ;).

Of course this requires employees who can actually read and type at reasonable speeds, and multitask.

With normal physical presence meetings (stand-up or not), you could have 5 people mostly idle, with the only the chairperson reasonably busy, for the entire meeting time. Not very efficient.

IM meetings could take a bit longer - many people don't type as fast as they can speak and do a normal presentation, but I don't think that's a show-stopper.

FWIW, are stand-up meetings really more productive and effective than other sort of physical meetings? Or are they merely shorter, leaving more time to get the work done... You can actually have productive meetings - you must have a good reason for meetings, agenda, etc etc (plenty of stuff written on that already).

[1] This gets harder once there are too many meetings in parallel that require your concentration, but hey you want productive right?

Re:Curious (2)

ATMAvatar (648864) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924179)

That is ultimately how my team does it. We use chat (originally IRC, but recently XMPP chat on a company server). There is no requirement that anyone be in at a particular time, and we have logs that keep track of what was discussed automatically. It takes all of about 1-2 minutes of anyone's time each day at most.

Contrast that sharply to another team in the building that's 3-4 times our size and insists upon having actual meetings. It is not uncommon to see them spend over an hour and a half discussing what they're going to do for the day, only to realize that there's now no longer enough time to bother starting anything until after lunch.

Re:Curious (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38924133)

What I've seen of agile is that it seems to be an excuse for we're too lazy to develop software correctly, so 'agile' is our euphemism for hacking shit together. And of stand ups for 'scrum' -- the insecure and/or narcissists use them to brag about how awesome and hip they are; and the arrogant use them as a means to talk down to everyone else. And no, I'm not in favor of waterfall development -- just people stopping to THINK about software development and at least minimally plan for what needs to be done. In other words, almost agile -- getting things done quickly but without titles, paradigms, methodologies, and other bullshit flavor of the week silver bullet crap to make their resumes look nice.

Re:Curious (5, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924015)

You don't get the point of the standup meeting. Why is it standup, it is to keep the meeting short, and to the point. Where otherwise it will be an hour long sit down meeting once a week.

The daily meeting has other advantages.
1. It puts everyone in the same room at the same time and they know what is going on daily. This can stop duplication of effort as sometimes you get multiple requirements across many people but the work is actually nearly the same.

2. It helps focus on what your tasks are for the day. Let's face it, there are days that you slack off on not because you don't have enough work but because your daily goal wasn't there. A quick meeting where you need to state your goal keeps you honest and helps you know your goal is for the day.

3. It is informal and no notes, nothing gets fixed in stone, allows for more of an honest assessment.

4. Team lead is informed on what is going on, and when pressed by management he has the answer.

5. Simple problems can get solved easier. After the meeting people's schedules can disconnect and it could take days to answer a simple question.

6. It keeps your team together.

Re:Curious (2, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924063)

The daily meeting has other advantages:
1. It puts everyone in the same room at the same time and they know what is going on daily. This can stop duplication of effort as sometimes you get multiple requirements across many people but the work is actually nearly the same.

Do you all even talk to each other? Like, getting up and vocalizing rather than fucking off on Facebook all day?

2. It helps focus on what your tasks are for the day. Let's face it, there are days that you slack off on not because you don't have enough work but because your daily goal wasn't there. A quick meeting where you need to state your goal keeps you honest and helps you know your goal is for the day.

You should probably hire less microcephalics and other unmotivated, underpaid interns to do the actual work.

3. It is informal and no notes, nothing gets fixed in stone, allows for more of an honest assessment.

None of you have the balls to say that daily meetings are redundant and stupid, so you're all lazy, underpaid, or dumb.

4. Team lead is informed on what is going on, and when pressed by management he has the answer.

Why does the lead have to be pressed to know the answer? Once again, your company is full of idiots.

5. Simple problems can get solved easier. After the meeting people's schedules can disconnect and it could take days to answer a simple question.

Schedules can disconnect? Anybody who can't walk to another cube and "connect" should be fired.

6. It keeps your team together.

Sure, when the meetings happen because of one idiot's shortcomings and it brings us together to insult the idiot. Shit, son, I think you may be on to something.

Re:Curious (1)

Hartree (191324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924085)

"You don't get the point of the standup meeting."

After a dozen years of enduring daily stand up meetings called morning company formation in the military, you're right: I don't get the point.

Re:Curious (3, Funny)

bomb_number_20 (168641) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924129)

Not even close to the same thing.

Well, not unless every person in your morning company formation sequentially breaks ranks, runs to the front, does an about face and gives a personal status:

"Company! Yesterday, I did a lot of pushups! Then I low-crawled! Then I cleaned my weapon and did some more pushups! Today, I'm going to walk a lot! My impediments are the group of people across the wire trying to kill me! Hoooahh!!"

Re:Curious (2)

w_dragon (1802458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924189)

Frankly that would be about as useful as most development standups I've been in. I know what you did, I saw the notice that you checked a feature into main and I saw that you moved a ticket into 'ready for QA' in the same project I'm working on. I really don't need to hear you say it. And if you wait 24 hours to fix a roadblock due to when a meeting is scheduled then you've waited at least 23 hours too long for my liking.

Re:Curious (4, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924293)

"Company! Yesterday, I did a lot of pushups! Then I low-crawled! Then I cleaned my weapon and did some more pushups! Today, I'm going to walk a lot! My impediments are the group of people across the wire trying to kill me! Hoooahh!!"

Not everyone's 11B, you know.

When I was a medic, we had a simple, informal process for shift change and report. "Here's what happened on the night shift, here's what's going on with the patients we have in here right now, hope you have an easy day." Once a year or so, the DoD would go through some management-techniques craze sold to the brass by some Senator's brother-in-law, and the word would come down from on high to use whatever the latest buzzword methodology was. We'd play along for a little while, and then when they weren't looking over our shoulders any more, we'd laugh and forget about it and go back to doing what actually worked.

Nothing I've seen in my years in industry and academia since getting out have convinced me that there is any value at all in any kind of meeting ritual. The more "process" you try to ladle onto the job of communicating with your co-workers, the less actual communication takes place. This is true regardless of whether you're trying to take and hold ground, save lives, or just get the damned code out the door.

Re:Curious (3, Interesting)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924111)

> In the civilian world, if you have meetings every day, it's because your boss or some other important idiot is a bottleneck in the process and they need daily reinforcement of common sense, at the expense of department productivity.

I know this might be a little foreign to someone from the military, but some of us get multiple things done in a day. Our team has a daily standup to ensure we don't step on each others' toes too often, while we're getting shit done. The manager is almost never present, nor does he speak unless spoken to in the standups (with exceptions, if he's gone and done something related to one of our features or has a concern about contingency).

Your sentiment is backward, at best.

Re:Curious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38924197)

Spoken like a true hermit.

In normal world, if you have a project involving 3+ people under strict deadline that cannot be missed, it really pays to make sure EVERY f*cking day that everyone involved is on the same page. Otherwise, people get distracted (oh, squirrel!) and head off in directions you would never imagine possible, everything falls apart, and everyone b*tches about how nothing gets done. In the best scenario, in that case 2+ people don't do really anything, and 1 person works around the clock to get sh*t done. If you like that kind of work, then fine - don't bother with daily meetings. I'm guessing you're one of the 2+ people then.

Re:Curious (1)

Jhon (241832) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924303)

"In the civilian world, if you have meetings every day, it's because your boss or some other important idiot is a bottleneck in the process and they need daily reinforcement of common sense, at the expense of department productivity."

We used to have a weekly meeting that would last between 1-2 hours with the big cheese which were usually quite detailed. The remainder of the week consisted of a quick daily "stand up" meeting outside the building (or in the lunch room in bad weather) -- which we called a "huddle" which did *NOT* include the big cheese. Those rarely lasted 5 mins and consisted of signing in and quickly noting if there were any issues that needed addressing or quick updates on projects. We were expected to be at at least 2 of those a week and they were very informal.

Those "stand ups" weren't bad or unproductive. It was 10 mins out of my day (figure time to walk outside, signing and back + the meeting). I wouldn't say they were HELPFUL most of the time -- but it DID give me a better feeling of what's going on outside of my department and how the "bits and pieces" fit together. Knowing that really helps figure out what someone NEEDS/WANTS then they ask you for something -- and to target the right questions for clarification. I'd say that those 5 min meetings probably saved me a good 1-3 hours of email reading/sending a week (totally guesstimating here, but I think I'm spot on).

But the company was sold and I ended up in corporate hell (hell might be too strong a word -- maybe corporate purgatory)... Now I spend 10-15 hours a week between meetings and conf calls.

stand up - sit down (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38923833)

Our daily 15 minute stand up meetings turned into daily 1 hour sit downs.....

Re:stand up - sit down (4, Informative)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38923895)

Then you're doing it wrong. The standup should be for status and blockers only - if you need another meeting, schedule it during the standup.

Re:stand up - sit down (2)

S77IM (1371931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924251)

The key to making these meetings go fast is: participants are not allowed to interrupt, discuss, or ask questions while other people are giving status updates. It makes the status updates go really fast. Afterwards, people can stick around and discuss if they want, but are free to leave if they don't need to be part of that discussion.

  -- 77IM

Re:stand up - sit down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38923901)

It really depends on the team size. You just cannot afford to have a daily stand up meeting, if 20+ people need to report updates everyday. On the other hand, if your team size is small, you are doing it wrong.

Really? (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 2 years ago | (#38923835)

...in some place, late employees 'sometimes must sing a song like "I'm a Little Teapot," do a lap around the office building or pay a small fine.'

I guess there are lots of ways to get people laughing at you, which is what would happen if you tried to institute this at my workplace.

Re:Really? (4, Insightful)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38923923)

Seems to me that if folks have to use public shame as a whip, the team has more problems than simple standups will fix.

On the other hand, the pride of being able to come in every day and announce the accomplishments is a positive motivator.

Re:Really? (1)

Astronomerguy (1541977) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924071)

+1. Wish I had mod points.

Re:Really? (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924075)

...in some place, late employees 'sometimes must sing a song like "I'm a Little Teapot," do a lap around the office building or pay a small fine.'

I guess there are lots of ways to get people laughing at you, which is what would happen if you tried to institute this at my workplace.

Yeah that might of worked in the depression where you'd do anything to keep your job and the labour laws were non-existent, but if anyone tried to pull that crap with me i'd be talking to a lawyer..

Re:Really? (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924225)

Any company that knows you consulted a lawyer against your previous employer will automatically reject you as a candidate for employment. Nobody likes a whiner and whiners are terribly destructive of morale and productivity.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38924157)

This is taking the idea of standup meetings in an Agile Environment and adding insult to it. Very stupid and if I'd work there I would refuse to sing or participate in any mocking that occurs. Whoever thought of this must be a bitch to around during a code review!

I work at a company with multiple projects per team and one of the managers read an article about Agile development and has started to implement it without reading further. God help us as he creates Acronyms and "Key Phrases" for every little thing. I'm on his email list solely cause I assisted during the summer while some team members were out. If I fail to RSVP for a standup meeting I get a stern email.

meetings are a gimmick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38923837)

add another

We had dailies (2)

Aryden (1872756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38923839)

Then we got a new manager. Meeting times went down to 2 per week, productivity went up... correlation? You tell me...

Re:We had dailies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38923935)

Depends...

On the person running the meetings.

Mine are 15 MAX.
You have something you want to talk about? Tabled we will setup another meeting if you want to expound on it it.

Other project I had dude took them over (prima dona). They went from 'what are you working on, are you blocked, whats next' to hour long discussions on the latest open source thing he found that just *HAD* to be in the code. They stopped having them about 2 months ago. Well the project is stuck and not going anywhere fast. All the code 'is not quite right and it all needs to be thrown out and rewritten'. They havent added a new feature in 6 months.

They can be good or horrible. Depends on how they are run. If you get a couple of talkers in there your fucked. Especially if they run the meetings.

Another problem is if you have too many 'projects'. You end up with meetings for them all and doing nothing except bitch about how you cant get anything done.

Re:We had dailies (1)

w_dragon (1802458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924021)

That's 15 minutes, plus the time required to get back to work, both in terms of socialization just after the meeting and time to remember exactly where you left off, multiplied by the number of people. On a large team, that's basically a person-day of work gone every day.

Re:We had dailies (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924061)

A meeting once a week where I work. Lasts anywhere from an hour to an hour and half. For what we do, I'd say that's optimal. I guess I fall in the lucky few group.

Re:We had dailies (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924101)

Meetings are not a magic bullet for good managers, it is just a tool in their shed. You could have had a manager who did good stand up meeting but sucked at the rest of his job. While the new manager may have bad meetings but the rest of his management is better.

All meetings are useless.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38923859)

Sorry - complete waste of time. Usually due to someone who's clueless trying to siphon energy and ideas from others.

Depends (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38923861)

That depends if your co-workers can get to the point and not drag the meeting on to where you have the usual meeting length everyday. If so, then it might. Otherwise, it's just more pointless meetings.

sure they're helpful (5, Insightful)

raind (174356) | more than 2 years ago | (#38923863)

You go outside with your boss and have a smoke and tell him what's really going on..

So wait, (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924121)

You're saying meetings are more effective if everyone smokes?

No electronics rule (1)

addikt10 (461932) | more than 2 years ago | (#38923869)

No two-way pagers (how I started), no phones, no laptops.
Come in, complete your agenda, manage the meeting so if participants need to cover something in detail, go off and do it and give a quick report at the next meeting, or send it to the project manager to distribute to the group.
If you are to busy to focus, then don't attend.

Re:No electronics rule (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924141)

That's the nice thing about a 15 minute meeting - most interruptions can be deferred.

I'm sorry, what? (5, Insightful)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 2 years ago | (#38923879)

I'm late to a meeting, for whatever reason, and you are asking me to do what now? No. I don't think so.

But by all means, try it. Not only will it undermine your authority ( which can't be all that strong to begin with, if you have to rely on silly shit like this ), but it will create some seriously awkward moments ( which I have trained myself to be immune from, for just such a situation ).

Re:I'm sorry, what? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924057)

Sounds like a good occasion to quit on the spot.

Re:I'm sorry, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38924241)

Frankly as your manager, after the 3rd stunt like that you'd get a disciplinary note, and if you keep this up, I'd fire you. Your manager lacks balls. If they can't fire you, they still can make your life miserable, and eventually they will get their "higher ups" to fire you. You can make things difficult, but that's very "career-limiting" move.

If you think that "connections" will protect you, think again. If whoever higher up you got the connection with is sane, and your manager is straight up with them, they will get on you for undermining the company. If they aren't sane and let you get away with that cr*p, then your company isn't going anywhere.

Good move. Keep up the good work

No meetings are even better (2)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 2 years ago | (#38923893)

Email should suffice for the _majority_ of many many person meetings. (Sure, problem solving requires in person cooperation, but that's not what I would call a "meeting".)

Re:No meetings are even better (2)

w_dragon (1802458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924049)

Especially status updates. A one-line email from each member, aggregated by a PM and sent to the group, can be read whenever I'm at a stopping point and can switch tasks without losing my place in my work. Blowing 15 minutes every day to listen to everyone say '8 hours on feature X yesterday, 32 remaining' is not my idea of a positive use of my time.

Re:No meetings are even better (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924065)

Emails have the problem that they are perminate. You can ask a question or put your status one wrong word could mean a firestorm of emails. "I don't know" or "I am having some problems" is a kiss of death for a simple problem stated in a quick meeting.

Re:No meetings are even better (0)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924127)

Emails have the problem that they are perminate.

Yeah, they can show the spelling abilities that the sender has, too.

Re:No meetings are even better (1)

Astronomerguy (1541977) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924107)

I'm on the board of a science-oriented non-profit in Canada. We submit our reports 1 week before the monthly Exec meeting on our forum. At the meeting it's "Any questions or anything to add to xy report?". Then it's new business. Most questions are handled on the forum *when we have time personally to deal with them*. Meetings are to the point and handled within an hour. We also open the Exec meetings to interested members to observe. Now, if I could get my employer to adopt such a model...

Re:No meetings are even better (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924119)

Email is too easy to tune out to avoid duplication of effort, to uncover growing problems, etc. The point of the standup in agile is to enforce awareness of what's going on in the group, so that everyone attends to the information and can help the group to work more effectively.

Re:No meetings are even better (4, Insightful)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924165)

Good communication is the key. Not email, or meetings, which are just mediums. Its all about the data being transferred. I've had meetings/status updates via email, bug tracking, chat, phone, in person, and in person stand ups. They all fail when the communication is poor, and succeed when it is clear and concise. With relation to the post itself, yes, I think it is a gimmick (especially "penalties" for not jumping through the right hoops). Invest in making sure the whole team understands how to communicate effectively. That will pay dividends that will help your company really grow.

Their great if done right. (4, Insightful)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38923905)

We run an end of the day 5 minute run down meeting. It is a great way for managers to catch patterns, problems, and just generally keep a finger on the pulse of how things are running. The key is the 5 minute time limit.

It makes it easy to pass information up and down the chain and maintain the focus.

-Lifyre

Re:Their great if done right. (1)

pooh666 (624584) | more than 2 years ago | (#38923967)

BS, it makes it easy to skip important details and miss whole major topics and looming problems, thanks to brevity.

Re:Their great if done right. (2)

w_dragon (1802458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924155)

End of the day for me is 4:00PM. For some of my coworkers it's 5:00, for some it's 7:00. One of the biggest problems with these meetings is that whenever you schedule them you're interrupting work for someone, even if you try to time it when people are just starting or finishing up for the day.

wow (4, Insightful)

w_dragon (1802458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38923907)

That article reads like a list of every stupid idea a project manager has ever had. Here's an idea: keep the status meetings to once a week major changes in the project, keep individuals informed of changes that affect them as they happen, and let the workers do the work. When we're done, we'll update the feature/bug tracking system to indicate that we're done and move on. The tracking system will then notify the next person down the line (QA, build, PM, whoever) that something is ready for them, and if they have questions they can come talk to us directly, one on one. Go back to the agile manifesto, and screw off with all the buzzword-laden process crap.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38923959)

Stick to paradigms with synergy; buzzwords are fit for the pit!

Re:wow (1)

pooh666 (624584) | more than 2 years ago | (#38923981)

yay! Thank you!

In my experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38923909)

I find some of the jokes a little bit unfinished, but overall, bringing a comedy routine in the workplace is a great trend. I just wish people would stop trying to rip-off other comedians... Who do they think they are? Dane Cook?

Yea (2)

ChrisWMcLean (2544076) | more than 2 years ago | (#38923913)

They are a good way to break people who think they need daily meetings of the need. Doing it standing up prevents the kind of bloviating that the daily meeting types need, so that the only things you say are the things you need to say. It's basically the least wasteful way of doing a meeting where all you are really doing is exchanging status updates. For meeting where you actually need to work over issues and discuss things in depth, it's not appropriate.

Re:Yea (1)

pooh666 (624584) | more than 2 years ago | (#38923995)

What on earth can you say in a standup that you can't say in an email or a PM tool?

Re:Yea (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924137)

It's the audience, not what you can say. Email/PM doesn't give you the attention of the audience. It also doesn't require you to be concise, so if you do everything by email/pm you get the blowhards sucking up too much attention.

Re:Yea (1)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924209)

Well, I can complain about how cold the meeting room is as an example.

Standups can be extremely useful. (5, Insightful)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38923915)

When used properly.

If they are kept short, if folks give status, indicate plans and lay out blockers, without drilling down during the meeting (you can always schedule another meeting after standup, but standup is not the time for deep discussions).

In general, when used correctly, agile is just the fitting of good work habits and practices to the reality. No matter what the approach, an individual should have reachable short term daily goals, weekly goals, sprint level goals, etc. Forming the process around good work habits can indeed massively increase productivity.

With that said, no management/team approach will in and of itself fix a broken team.

kills creativity and initiative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38923917)

What it does is force everyone into line... they have to report measurable progress on the boss' priorities. No skunk works.

misfire of the magic buttet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38923925)

My company has gone to stand-up meetings as part of its switch to Agile/Scrum. The intention of the stand-up I think is to keep the meeting short and focused. Well, or at least that is the idea. However, the reality is that you cannot get real work done when standing, as you cannot use a laptop, nor can you easily take notes. The result is that these stand-up meeting have become fluff social calls that completely waste time.

With that said, I might be a bit jaded. One of my recent stand-up meetings was in a teleconference when the remote group started berating me for not standing like all the others. Eventually, I had to publicly inform the ass hat that I would love to join them in standing if it were not for the fact that I am in a wheelchair. Jaded or not, I still think these stand-up meetings are nothing more than desperate grasp by companies loosing money trying to find a magic bullet to improve efficiency.

Oh yeah, great idea *rolls eyes* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38923943)

We the rank and file had to stand, but the manager stayed sitting down. And those "5 minute meetings" frequently turned into half hour or longer sessions where he grilled us at length about what he perceived to be our inadequacies. You know, like not being able to make dead computers come back to life because management was too cheap to buy new hardware.

At least that beat working at another place. There we had to do a "brag" where each of us had to thank somebody else at the meeting for some wonderful thing they'd done for us in the past day or week. Straight out of a Dilbert cartoon.

Hit 'em where it hurts--in the wallet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38923977)

Our sales organization had some interesting rules:
1) Walk in late--hand the current speaker a $20 bill. Stop at the ATM on the way (you are already late) and get the money. No IOU's.
2) Cell phone rings during meeting... $50 to the current speaker.

Re:Hit 'em where it hurts--in the wallet (1)

Astronomerguy (1541977) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924135)

That, sir, is frankly fucked. I've perfected the unblinking stare. I'd just stare at the ass-hat that tried to demand any amount of $$ out of my wallet. Pity the damned fool that pushed the issue.

Only works with respect (5, Insightful)

Tony Isaac (1301187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38923993)

When I first brought daily 10-minute meetings to my programming team, they were skeptical. They hated meetings because they had been long and unproductive. But recently, after three years, I gave the team the option to reduce the number of meetings to, say, twice a week. Unanimously, they wanted to continue the daily meetings. Each of them said they got a lot out of them. They felt they knew what was going on, and many problems were caught before they grew.

The thing is, I respect my team members. I treat them like they are the professionals they are. In return, they give me everything they've got.

Daily meetings done right can be highly valuable. Done wrong, they can be torture.

Dilbert! (2)

porky_pig_jr (129948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924005)

I'm sure Scott Adams will greatly benefit from these fads. Just think about Wally participating in stand up meeting!

I'd rather not stand (5, Insightful)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924013)

I've run development projects for about 15 years now. I've always considered development a creative process. And as such I've always avoided too much structure in developers time. I'm not going to say to anyone, "Every day at 9:30 we're going to spend 15 minutes talking about yellow post-it notes". There will be meetings. But overall I treat developers as professionals, I'm not monitoring their time. I'd rather have 35 hours of productive time then 50 hours on the clock of which 10 is spent avoiding work and another 10 not giving their all. And I'd rather they stay until is needed without needing to be asked when the time comes because they appreciate the freedom they get normally. Basically, I measure productivity and not timesheets. I have no problem approving a timesheet that is "short" on hours as long as I feel the production was there. Some people like working late and come in late. Some early and leave early. Some like to skip out after 37 hours a week, but if they're productive why do I care?

I might be lucky and through many stops have it always work for me. But overall a process development is simple. Get me good requirements. Do a good design. Develop with good practices and patterns. Test it. Deploy. More than that is a solution looking for a problem IMO.

I've had several developers come in early and stay late and not do as much work as someone that always sneaks out a little early. What's the big deal unless their pay levels are off? The stand up's just seem childish and are a fad. I hope!

Re:I'd rather not stand (3, Insightful)

w_dragon (1802458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924167)

I'm reasonably certain you're not my manager, I don't think he's up to 15 years yet, but in any case let me say THANK YOU from someone who greatly appreciates having a boss that thinks this way :)

Re:I'd rather not stand (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924275)

You are clearly not in consulting. Time is x/hour, whether you are spinning straw into gold or picking your asshole.

Depends on the purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38924017)

The purpose of meetings is to facilitate realtime communication among a group of people. The question is how often you really need to do this.

In organizations where the timeline for work is very short, daily meetings might make sense. In IT this is generally limited to O&M organizations. Ten or fifteen minutes at shift changes help to bring everybody up to speed on standing issues and to quickly task out work.

I see people try to bring the daily standup meeting into engineering and development organizations and it's a terrible waste of time. Most real work gets done by individuals or very small teams where informal conversation is sufficient. When more people need to be involved, a TEM is arranged. Every manager I know who did daily standup meetings was unqualified for their job. Typically they did not have an intimate knowledge of the work their teams did and used the standup as a way to collect information to share with their manager.

I personally feel engineering and development teams should have weekly meetings. Enough changes in a week that it's worth bringing everyone back together.

I have two with my dogs every day (1)

kawabago (551139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924029)

They always produce a new pile of management initiatives which I scoop up and deliver to the suggestion box in the park.

stand ups dont work well (1)

caywen (942955) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924041)

I tried to get my team to do daily stand up meetings, but everyone quickly ran out of fresh material and no one was funny anymore.

The funniest thing I've heard recently is that I'm doing it wrong. That was a kick.

Meetings... (2)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924051)

Jesus effin christ... MEETINGS...

one big stroke off for the idiots running the place, to tell the
people that are really making them the money, that they aren't
making enough of it.

That, is why I'm out of the corporate bullshit circle jerk.

-AI

Re:Meetings... (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924259)

At my last job it was exactly this, your doing it wrong we have no suggestions and you better fix it with all that free time you have doing 3 peoples work cause we are bleeding money cause no one in the entire place has a clue of a goal or how to reach it, so we do redundant work.

Job before that meeting were fine, here is what we are doing, here is how we all could improve, what are your ideas, and we will try that and see how it goes from there!

So yes it totally is related to the incompetence of the bosses, stupid bosses waste a lot of time doing nothing in meetings making their presence known cause otherwise they are a useless joke that noone takes seriously, smarter ones get shit accomplished in short times.

Good idea in theory. (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924081)

But usually when we hold them Dane Cook crashes them and does a 45 minute set bumping everyone else off the agenda.

Not too often (4, Insightful)

ToasterTester (95180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924103)

When people stick to the idea, previous days targets, any issues, todays targets, and move on. It fine, but when others start whining or manager wantabee start say "don't be so negative..." it turns to be a pain.

At another place I worked we had morning meeting (sit down) with all who were at work. Meeting was set a one hour max. Manger made any annoucements and floor open to issues and questions, very informal. Those ended up being good meetings very informative and some morning only 15 minutes long.

Meetings Are A Waste OF Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38924105)

It is in my not so humble experience that in offices where management has no clue what they are doing, should be doing, have done or need to do; meetings of any duration are a complete waste of time for everyone involved. I have sat, stood and crouched in meetings about meetings concerning meetings so that we may better understand that this meeting is to decide what we will have for snacks at the next meeting.

The idea that management (always with a little m) is not to blame is foolishness at best of times and disingenuous for all other times. If you make the policy and you call the meeting; if you set the standard and measure your success by how many meetings you have; you are most assuredly to blame. I have never met a manager who wasn't just tickled about having a meeting about the dumbest crap you can imagine.

There are two types of people who inhabit any given office: The ones who get things done by doing what needs to be done; correctly, timely, legally and safely and then there is everyone else. If you are a non-doer then you either browse teh interwebs and garbage like that or you are a manager. Sit down, shut up and let those of us who can or will, do our jobs. Go have a meeting with the rest of the people who aren't doing anything.

Lastly, when I am on a job interview (Contracting is always preferred as far as I am concerned); some of the questions I ask is how many meetings do they have, how often, what is discussed, how much work gets down when the largest meeting holders are on vacation etc etc.

In this day and age, regardless of the nationality of the company's HQ, you would think they would be busy getting rid of most corporations top heavy selection of idiots and morons and increase profits by letting those who actually earn their checks; earn their checks.

Wow...that was a lot more snarly than I had intended. But, so very spot on!

No magic bullet (1, Insightful)

Denagoth (582705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924115)

You can't just pick a tactical tool as the magic bullet for success. Done correctly, the daily standup is an integral part of an iterative, incremental development process (Agile) which focuses team members on the work much must be completed within the current iteration (sprint). The PM and the Product Owner get a quick snapshot of progress and the team members get to request assistance on any blocked deliverables (user stories). This is a good thing.

OTOH, mandating a daily standup w/o also implementing an Agile framework is a waste of time...All you get is people standing in a circle wondering why they're their and what they should be doing.

P.S. I count at least 25 people in the photo from the WSJ article. Agile teams are 7 +/- 2 people. No way their meeting is gonna take only 15 minutes!

Are daily standups more productive? (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924195)

It depends... More productive than what? Than sitting ina two hour meeting listening to your manager bloviate? Probably. Than actuallly doing work? Probably not.

But it's the wrong question anyhow... "If you have to have meetings, is this the most efficient way?" is a better question. And the most efficient way will vary on your organizational needs, your team, and what you all happen to be doing. Sorry - there are no easy answers.

absolutely! (1)

stillpixel (1575443) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924205)

Are they done while standing at the urinal in the men's room? That would always keep the meetings short.. and to the point.

It is just a tool, nothing more (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38924249)

Where I work we don't do stand up meetings, mainly because our team is all over the US, consist of IT, outsourced developers, and functional process owners. It is simply called a "priority" call - it takes up an hour on our calendars, but we rarely ever use the full hour unless there is a significant issue. In most cases when the meeting ends early, it is actually kind of nice to have around 40-50 minutes every morning that is "blocked" with a meeting, but can be used to get work done.

So what is my point? It is that we are taking the concept of stand up meeting and using the parts that work for us. It is important because the team is fairly large (~5 person core IT team, 10 developers, 6 "core" functional owners, and a bunch of others who are affected by this project - but don't have to attend). Communication is key - because there is so much running in parallel and we need to mitigate the risk of someone "not knowing" what someone is doing.

Now, if you just a meeting to have a meeting - then your doing it wrong. If you are going to punish folks to being late to a meeting, or not attending a meeting - your doing it wrong. If you need someone's time and aren't getting it, go to their manager - if you don't have their manager's buy in (through either pitching out your idea to them or the "power of hierarchy") then your doing it wrong.

Fuck yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38924271)

Yes they're important and helpful.

Ours are scheduled to the impact to work is minimal, And they beat the hell out of the weekly hour long bullshit meeting, that always take up the full hour, no matter what.

During crunch time... (1)

cplusplus (782679) | more than 2 years ago | (#38924289)

...they are very productive. A half hour is all it takes to get 15 people all on the same page, form a plan, and act. Early morning for hot topics and action plans, and a 15 minute standup in the afternoon to get a feel for how it's all coming together. Of course, if we did that all the time, we'd burn out.
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