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Topics: Agile, Leadership, Teams
Are Stand-Ups Always Necessary?
Silly question of the week: are stand-ups always necessary? While we are on this subject, are frequent status updates (e.g. weekly meetings) always necessary? How do you decide what's the desired meeting rhythm for your team?
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Jonathan -

No, if the team has a better way of aligning their efforts on an ongoing basis towards completing priority work.

Status updates via meetings are a waste of time for the team. If they are required by certain governance bodies, then the PM should attend those, but not waste the team's time. Proper definition and use of information radiators can help to eliminate the need for such meetings.

The frequency for any event should be driven by the Goldilocks principle - not too often, but not too infrequently. Teams should pick a starting cadence and then inspect and adapt it at periodic intervals (e.g. after a major release).

Stand ups are typically used most within Scrum as it's so the dev team can touch base and coordinate work.

I do think status update meetings are generally a waste of time but see how sometimes they're required by senior management.

Honestly - whatever way the team wants to interact to make sure work is getting done is generally fine by me. However, every project needs some kind of meeting cadence. Whether that's once a month, once a week, once a day - it depends on the project and most importantly, the team
If you are using Scrum and you want to do it by the book then yes they are necessary. If you just want to do some work either as a part of a project or operations then they are not necessary even if you are using Scrum.

From my experience daily stand-ups can often have a very negative effect as the team members may feel a very high pressure upon them because of the stands-up.

They are meant to help the team members coordinate better and keep in sync but many things are designed to do good and end up doing more harm than good. I believe that the daily stand-up is one of these things.

Because of the daily stand-ups some work environments may end up very toxic. Because of fear of being scolded the team members may end up focusing solely on doing something so that they can report progress during the stand ups. If they don't report progress they may end up in trouble. I have heard of team members being scolded during stand-ups for not reporting too much progress on the tasks they were working on.

In my opinion the best approach is to have a lead team member being in constant contact with the other team members about their work in an informal way and then only that lead should be in more formal meetings about progress. This way the team members are protected and they don't have to fear about reporting little or no progress during the daily stand-ups.
Reports and any meeting should be used to support whatever approach is being used. So do you need a daily standup to support your approach? If the answer is yes then it is necessary.

The purist will have you believe that you HAVE to do this and that if you want to implement a successful approach/methodology. Sometimes this is true but it should not always be followed blindly. It makes no sense to do something just because the book says so but you are not adding value.
My teams use standups as daily planning activities. We get together for a few minutes and plan what we will accomplish today. They are very short, to the point and effective for my teams.

I have also worked with teams that did a quick check-in with each other via Slack daily. And another team that sat together at the same table and worked closely together all day.

Bottom line: depends on the team and what works most effectively for them.
I find that daily stand ups are more effective and better accepted by the team than weekly status meetings or status reports. Ideally, communication should happen as needed, but the daily stand up serves as a backstop to ensure the communication occurs. It is also a venue where decisions and issues addressed by a small group can get communicated to the larger team. For distributed teams, the daily stand up also serves as a socialization opportunity.

Although the daily stand up may not always be absolutely necessary it is often effective for a small time commitment. When things get hectic, it is usually better to have an established communication mechanism in place rather than putting it in place at the time (or after the need has truly arisen).
I use the traditional Standup model to keep my staff connected to each other and informed. We also use the time to call out blockers, risks, and issues.
Great perspectives, everyone! Was speaking with someone many years my junior and she was telling me that during her internship she was overwhelmed by the sheer number of updates she's being asked to give for projects.

I can't help but empathize, but also understand the need for a team to coordinate work. Perhaps what's needed is a combination of intuitive PMIS tools and effective meetings, like standups.
Standups are targeted to improve the team inner collaboration, while status meetings are to align the team with outside groups, hence they are weekly or even monthly.

Standups establish a discipline and rigor, they are often used to hold team members accountable to each other, though that might be done by a servant leader 1on1 in more effective ways. Standups are often the first meeting in the morning, so they force some to come in early (have seen some scheduled 7am).
Bad standups are not necessary.
Good standups are invaluable.
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