Scrum stand-ups prevent you from doing your best work, and they do that every day

Back in 2010 I worked for a company that had daily stand-ups at 10am every day. That's fairly standard practice, so I found it difficult to complain about. I was never enthusiastic about these meetings, but could never put my finger on why. Recently I realized it was a combination of these factors:

  1. You get paid for your best ideas. Nobody hires anyone to go to meetings, and people don't hire me to just pump out screens or mediocre software. At a customer last year, I had the idea that what they were really trying to build was a distributed software system over an unreliable network. I realized that their synchronous data access approach was not going to work. My architecture proposal was an asynchronous approach; that's online now, and they're thankful for that idea.

  2. You have your best ideas in the morning. From 8am to midday usually. Maybe it's just me, but according to the blogosphere this is a scientifically proven fact, so who knows. In respect of this realization, during the last years I've taken to scheduling meetings during the afternoon, to keep that morning "idea time" free. That has indeed increased my weekly productivity significantly.

  3. One meeting prevents you from doing deep work. In this excellent article Maker's Schedule, Worker's Schedule Paul Graham writes:

    When you're operating on the maker's schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in.

So that's the explanation. A standup at 10am literally splits the 8am-12pm productive period in half. You want to do your best deep work, that work happens in the mornings, and every single morning there's a standup that hinders you doing it.

This article is © Adrian Smith.
It was originally published on 3 Aug 2018
More on: Project Management