The Almost Daily Sit Downs


You can find literally hundreds of blog posts and articles on the Daily Standup, a.k.a. Daily Scrum. But there is little written about what often comes, or at least should come, after, the Daily Standup.

What, you may ask should come after the Daily Standup? Well, the Almost Daily Sit-Downs of course! By the way, if you haven’t heard the term before, I just coined it.

The Daily Standup

Before we go into the Almost Daily Sit-Downs, let’s look briefly at the Daily Standup. The Daily Standup is held each working day (with few exceptions) and is attended by the core team (the Pigs in Scrum parlance) and potentially others. The goal is to finish the meeting in 15 minutes, so only the core team members are allowed to speak, and each person has approximately 1 to 2 minutes (assuming < 10 people) to answer:

  1. What I did yesterday (since the last Daily Standup)?
  2. What I will do today (before the next Daily Standup)?
  3. What blockers are in the way?

Focus on Coordination

These questions are deceptively simple, but many are confused about how much detail to give in
response. As a result, Daily Standups often end up taking much more than the allotted 15 minutes. When this happens, I recommend one word to guide individuals and teams as they answer the three questions; “coordination”.

If you focus on giving just the information required to coordinate effectively, the meeting will be more effective.  The information passed along will help the team make commitments to each other, and self manage, but you will invariably have to leave some things out. For example, perhaps you would like to talk about something you learned.

You could say this…
Yesterday I found out something incredibly interesting and valuable about transforming the new XML file that we receive, if you want to, blah, blah, blah.

But, it would be better to say…
Yesterday I found some valuable information about how to transform the new XML file that we receive. I believe that Venkat, Ellie and Carly will benefit, so we can have a sit down after this meeting to discuss, and anyone else who wants to learn more can also come.

Or maybe when you are talking about what you are going to do today, you want to go into detail, so that the team can give you input.

You could say this…
Today I am going to work on the new database cache approach to speed up data access. I am going to create a set of new tables on the application server. As each new request comes in, blah, blah, blah.”

But it would be better to say…
Today I will work on the new database cache approach to speed up data access. This will rely on storing frequently accessed data on the application server, and I can use help on the design. Can anyone sit down with me after this meeting to help me think this through?

Defer the Details and Problem Solving to the Almost Daily Sit-Downs

Depending on the particular day, it is possible that the team will need several sit down meetings, and on other days, none will be required. The key is that you hold a sit down meeting only when required (hence the “Almost Daily” part of the name).

Using the Almost Daily Sit-Downs for the detailed discussion and problem solving allows a team to focus the Daily Standup on coordination, so that team members can answer the three-questions in a rapid fashion, making the Daily Standup a concise and effective coordination mechanism.

Your Experience

We are always interested in your experience, so please respond with your thoughts about how your team operates today?

  • Does your team have Almost Daily Sit-Downs?
  • Does your team focus their discussion at the Daily Standup on coordination?
  • If your team doesn’t have effective Daily Standups, can they improve by focusing on coordination and deferring the details until the Almost Daily Sit-Downs?

Questions?