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Our team meets everyday at standup to discuss about the updates from yesterday and plan the day. However, we have a problem that the standup which is scheduled for 30 mins almost always extends to 2 hours and it is scheduled at the most productive time of the day, which leaves less time to finish up actual task.

Also all our team members are working on something totally different with no real need for immediate collaboration.

My manager believes the meeting is useful because we get to know about each other’s work and if everyone explains their work in fair detail, then overall knowledge base of the team will grow and we can give suggestions to each other.

We brought this topic to his attention and had a discussion on whether we should stop extending the meeting everyday and keep it within scheduled time of 30 mins. His suggestion was that we want everyone to talk in detail but to reduce time taken, people can prepare notes on their updates and share it across team slack before the meeting starts. This way we could only discuss blockers and interesting points in the meeting.

We followed this strategy and spent 15 mins before the meeting to prepare notes. But it turned out that meeting is still getting extended for 2 hours as people are now repeating the same updates and doing some discussions.

This continued for 2 days and then I pointed out in the meeting that this strategy is not working and is having an opposite effect instead. But when I spoke up, it pissed off my manager and now he points me out and says this guy will run the standup from now on. Seeing that manager is pissed off, nobody spoke on my side and everyone else on the team started being neutral towards this meeting getting extended.

I am open for any healthy discussion with him but I’m not sure how to respond when someone is pointing me out instead of discussing on the process. What should I do?

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kilisi
    Sep 20 at 15:28
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Ah, yes, your manager has got a bit confused about the point of a standup. I can see your frustration!

Am I reading correctly that he's now given you the job of running the standup? If so, I'd say cool - now is your chance to demonstrate both that it works fine shorter, and that you can step up when asked! I'd first drop him a message/email and check that he does indeed want you to run them, and say you'd be happy to try for a set period.

Then you need to set the ground rules for running them, maybe strip it right back to the basics and use the "three questions"? and set the time at a hard 30 mins. Then during stand ups you do have to be a bit ruthless at re-directing conversations that should happen out of the stand up, its quite hard and takes a lot of back bone to do if the team isn't expecting it! Get your team on board by emphasising how they don't have to waste loads of time any more - I imagine many of them share your frustrations.

If you don't have a sprint review style meeting - then maybe designate one standup per week/fortnight to be longer and allow for feedback on how the new standups are working. Taking feedback and adapting is an important part of this style of working.

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    Agreed, and as a further note; Standups, like all other meetings, should have a stated purpose. A popular one is "To synchronize and plan for the next 24 hours in a way that gives us the best possible chance of meeting the Sprint Goals". Knowledge transfer is a possible but non-essential part of that. An agenda and a time limit will refine the purpose of the meeting and hopefully result in more satisfaction for all. Sep 17 at 13:07
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    30 minutes for a standup is waaay too long. Standups are not for discussion. Everyone should spend 1 minute speaking, at most. That's why they are called stand-ups. The reason to keep people standing was exactly to prevent long meetings. I even heard of methods like passing a heavy ball to the person who is speaking so they have a motivation to keep it short.
    – Sulthan
    Sep 17 at 15:36
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    Feel free to use the "let's take this offline" line when discussions start or updates get too detailed or long-winded. The standup, as others mention, is a brief summary of the "3 questions", not a detailed thesis of current work. Sep 17 at 18:03
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    @Sulthan Online meeting offer a further pre-commitment to short meetings: just program the web conferencing software to automatically close the meeting after X minutes. Sep 17 at 20:50
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    More directly: be the scrum master and point out why a concise standup is a good thing. Sep 17 at 23:12
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The idea that everyone is open to discussion is false.

You now have met one such person. Your manager is very much interested in only "managing" as he sees fit. He doesn't really care about productivity and actual output, but primarily compliance and obedience.

Now that you know what your manager is like, you decide how long you want to work for him before you had enough. Some people can work their whole career under such managers, but that someone may not be you.

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    +1 for the second paragraph alone!! Sep 17 at 9:22
  • I suspect the manager's insistence that everyone provide details of their task is more for his benefit. If that's the goal, then OP can't really do much here except push that the meeting be held at a different time, like perhaps the end of the day instead.
    – sfxedit
    Sep 17 at 16:35
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    @sfxedit that idea of having a standup scheduled at the end of the workday is a really bad idea, specially if tendency is to extend those meetings for another 90 minutes, imagine only: meeting set at 4.30pm, you are to leave work at 5pm, to pick up your kids at 5.30pm, but then the meeting takes longer...
    – Vickel
    Sep 17 at 19:49
  • @Vickel True. But the more the team grumbles, the more the manager will have to do something about it. Or the team will react in passive-aggressive manner - some will make excuses not to attend, some will just rush through their part etc. etc. One of OP's concern is that the meetings eats into the productive working hour. Scheduling the meeting to a different time is one solution to this.
    – sfxedit
    Sep 17 at 22:07
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    i find it funny that every second answer in every question is "find a new job", and it gets lots of up votes. Sep 20 at 8:38
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Your manager just gave you a step towards a promotion. Take it.

Your manager pointed at you, and told you that you now have the job of running the meetings? I'd nod, thank him, and then begin preparing to meet the requirements of the task he just gave me. Running the daily scrum meetings is one of the jobs of the Scrum Master, so your manager has just given you the job of a higher-level role. This is potentially the first step towards getting a promotion, so I'd definitely do my best to meet requirements.

I'd probably start off by emailing everyone a copy of the Scrum Guide, making sure that everyone was aware that the Daily Scrum is supposed to be a short meeting where everyone discusses the three main questions, and then when the next day's scrum meeting came along, I'd point at a person, and begin asking them the three questions of the list. If they started rambling or digressing into other areas, I'd try to politely cut them off and get the meeting back on track by asking the next question on the list. Once they had answered the three questions, I'd then point at the next person, and ask them the three questions.

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    Following this will most likely not get a promotion if the manager is indeed angry with OP.
    – Ben
    Sep 17 at 15:49
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    A lot of strange assumptions. We don't know they are following scrum. We don't know if they are doing some interpretation of scrum. It doesn't appear that the OP has been givin a role change. The manager is happy with how the meeting are run, so trying to change that is likely to end poorly for the OP. Sep 17 at 15:58
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    This runs the fine line of the promotion mentioned and making the manager even more angry. I'd still approach it as if the promotion was a real target, but with an understanding and likely backup plan for the alternate. Sep 17 at 18:06
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    Before the OP prepares too much, he should have a private talk with his manager. It's possible that the manager said this in anger and that the comment was only meant to be rhetorical. In either case, he should speak with him privately (which is what he should have done initially, because many managers don't take feedback very well when it's given to them in front of others). Sep 18 at 0:29
  • Besides other things already mentioned, switching from a technical role to a managerial, even though it might be called a promotion, is hardly a "must take". Personally, I've been avoiding being assigned a team lead for a couple of years and when I got cornered and had to don this mantle, it didn't turn out well. Not all "promotions" are good.
    – Lodinn
    Sep 24 at 15:02
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You should take the opportunity.

Before the meeting starts mention the below clearly to the team.

  1. What have you done. What is blocking you. What are you doing today? Tell them not to exceed more than two minutes each (person).
  2. Any design discussions, dependencies, things that are blocking people should be managed outside the standup. Standup is supposed to be brief and simple.

I do the above. It takes 10 minutes max for the standup of 4 people (on an average 5minutes). We keep it very brief. If people are explaining things in detail, I cut them off and ask them to put a meeting outside the standup and close things.

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There are a lot of good points and answers already, but I'd like to share my experience as I have been in a very similar situation.

My team used to have 45-60 mins stand ups daily. The reason was that our director decided to force us to do Scrum despite he himself not having a clue of what Scrum is except for doing sprints and stand ups.

We had no Scrum master and no one on the team had any real understanding of what agile development is so you can imagine the chaos. You can imagine about 10 people arguing every time what Scrum is and what we should be doing instead.

No one on the team had even heard about the Scrum Guide before! Everyone was ignoring my suggestions coz it was my opinion versus theirs.

It became so frustrating that my manager even let the product owner opinions dictate how the sprint should be managed coz she joined from a bigger company.

So I decided to get certified as a Scrum Master. I managed to get the PSM 1 and PSM 2 certificates. I made sure everyone one on the team and management acknowledge my accomplishment and understand what it means to be certified.

Next came the training phase. I decided to give few training sessions to the team about how Scrum should be implemented making sure I always refer to the Scrum guide which limited the arguing.

The Scrum guide says stand ups should be time boxed to 15 mins. Stand ups are for daily planning and not a progress report. The main goal of stand ups is to make sure that the team is not blocked and is moving towards the sprint goal. Team should be about 3-9 "developers" not counting the Scrum Master and the product owner.

The way I see it is that you manager is clueless about what Scrum is (like most managers honestly) and is doing more harm than benefit by not acknowledging his ignorance.

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  • This is a good answer. We shouldn't fall into the trap of "my idea against theirs", it will NOT solve any problem. Work your way to be a credible source first - then others will start listening. Sep 20 at 9:59
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Your manager is frustrated that they can't come to an agreement with you and your team, and they are out of ideas on how to fix the issue. It's best to avoid raising the issue for now unless you can propose another possible solution.

If your stand ups are going for 2 hours every single day, there is a bigger issue to get to the root cause of.

You could volunteer to record notes from the standup meetings each day - what points were raised, what was discussed by who, what actions were agreed upon. You can also record how long each person/discussion takes. Say that it is so your team can reflect on what was discussed and the knowledge share is documented.

Over a few days you will probably see patterns in the notes - the same things being discussed several days in a row, people hogging up time, lack of decision making, discussions being sidetracked, and extended speculation instead of taking action to find answers.

Then you will have evidence of how much of the meeting is actually useful. It will be easier to convince your manager and identify what is causing the meetings to drag on so long.

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    From what I understand, the situation has gone far past this to the point where the OP is supposed to be running the standups. It's now within their power (or should be) to change the format to actually meet standup criteria and bring the meetings back down to 30 min or less. Sep 17 at 18:35
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What should you do?

You need to accept that your manager has made their decision, and are unlikely to change their mind.

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    So what is your proposed solution for meeting deadlines (which are decided externally) after most of the 1st half of the day is wasted on a standup? Work overtime and on weekends? This is definitely our problem.
    – BitFlip
    Sep 17 at 7:03
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    You just miss the deadlines. It's your managers problem to deal with. Sep 17 at 7:11
  • I'd say if you're spending 25% of each day in standup, then you could add around 30% onto your time estimates as well (the 30% includes time for task switching and whatever)
    – OmarL
    Sep 17 at 14:44
  • @OmarL, IME extending time estimates for any reason is frowned upon. I had a manager that refused to extend time estimates when we got new people, even though the manager also held up tightly to those time estimates and complained when we misses sprints. The CEO was even worse. Sep 17 at 18:15
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    (nitpick @OmarL: If I miss 50% of my work time, I my estimate is doubled, not just increased by 50% - just goes to show how horrible this situation is)
    – mafu
    Sep 18 at 11:25
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Lots of comments/answers about the ‘3 questions’ (‘What have you done since the last meeting?’, ‘Is anything stopping you from doing something?’, and ‘What are you doing next?’)

Make sure to remind everyone that a standup is for them to check-in and provide updates, only. If an individual's slot goes over 5 minutes — especially if it's due to discussion and/or argument — then tell them to book a separate, dedicated meeting.

Something along the lines of “I'm going to have to cut you off there — it sounds like this topic requires more attention than this brief standup can provide, so could you book a proper meeting to discuss it?”

In fact, your manager's idea of ‘we should all know each other's work’ isn't a bad suggestion, it's just not something for the standup. My team used to have a separate meeting, once per week, in which one member of team would spend half an hour talking through their work, and then fielding questions or clarifications. Perhaps you could suggest that? (Not immediately before or after the standup, because you don't want them to blend together again! Perhaps the standup in the morning, and the cross-training in the evening?) Once you've gone through the whole team once, maybe twice, then there shouldn't be a need to do it again endlessly.

If you have a team of 7 (does that include the manager?) then you could try twice per week for a month, then a month off, and then — if needed — another month to refresh.

Also, if possible, try to book a second meeting immediately after the standup, at least once — especially if this is all online, and you can close down the virtual meeting room. (Ideally, a completely valid meeting, with someone who doesn't report to your manager, so that they can't try to reschedule it. And perhaps with a couple of other members of the team involved, to break up any ideas of staying on without you for discussion) Being able to say ‘Guys, can you wrap this up, I have a meeting with [Client] in 10 minutes, and we've only managed an update from one person so far’ carries more weight than “Guys, can you wrap this up, I need to get a coffee.”

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  • Last paragraph, I and everyone else try do whenever possible and then we drop off :)
    – BitFlip
    Sep 20 at 10:45

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