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I have had a discussion with my team about huddles; they want to do the meeting as a report written on slack rather than a face-to-face meeting. They consider that the meeting takes too long (it's 5 minutes long) and they forget what the others said from one day to another, not to mention that if someone mentions something and they want to start a discussion on the topic they might forget.

I tried to convince them on the use of face to face meetings, the human side of it, the people and interactions vs process in agile (we use Scrum), the psychological part of a commitment in front of your team, but my arguments were not enough.

Are there any problems with conducting the Daily Scrum using a tool like Slack?

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    It's not about the length of the meeting (5 minutes is not a long time by anyone's standards); it's about herding all of the cats together for those 5 minutes, and about the sheer number of meetings. – Robert Harvey Dec 1 '16 at 16:18
  • First you should find out what the real reason is they want to avoid the standup meetings, because the reasons given are BS.There is no way written reporting will be faster than a face-to-face - unless the team members don't plan to read the reports the other team members write. – JacquesB Dec 6 '16 at 17:46
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The original idea of the daily standup is certainly to do it in person, because this enables a communication channel with way more bandwidth then anything based on writing.

Having that said, doing it in writing via mail, chat or similar can be a great choice if it actually solves problems you have with the face 2 face communication.

Especially with vastly different schedules this makes perfect sense.

But the reasons you mention are a little strange:

  • 5 minutes is too long? Really? I'm inclined to suspect a completely different reason.

  • They might forget that they need a discussion? When are they planning to forget that? The communication should work something like this:

    A: I can't work as efficient as I think I could, because the transmogrifyier keeps transmogrifying me

    B: I can show you how to turn it off after the stand up

    Do they have problems, remembering the statement until they replied? Or remembering the plan until the end of the standup (less then 5min later)?

    Just let them know, it is ok to take notes. And/or let them talk to a doctor, this sounds like some serious mental issue.

It is impossible to tell what the real reasons are for this discussion, but I have the feeling you don't know them yet.

So I'd recommend the most powerful tool of agile and Scrum: the retrospective. Discuss the problem (not just the supposed solution) and come up with an experiment. Like doing async standups via chat. But make sure that you check the results a sprint later.

  • Calling the use of Slack instead of a standup meeting a "problem" in the retrospective is going to put people in resistance mode. – RemcoGerlich Dec 1 '16 at 15:09
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    -1 for calling something on this level a 'serious mental issue'. Things get forgotten - if you want to talk to two different people for different things, one conversation runs long, you can forget about the second. Forgetting happens for all manner of reasons. – sevenseacat Dec 1 '16 at 17:26
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    +1 for "it's ok if it solves an actual problem" plus "use the retrospective" and "make sure you check the results" – Bryan Oakley Dec 1 '16 at 20:37
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    @Andreea Are you the scrum master,or development team member? If the first I think you need way more questions then arguments. The goal should not be that people agree with the SM, The SM should surface issues, and support the team in finding their solution. – Jens Schauder Dec 5 '16 at 4:36
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    Scrum Master. Thank you for the suggestion, I agree with you. I'm trying to figure out what the problem is first then I help them get to a solution (if they don't manage by themselves, I propose them something). That's my usual approach, but I was caught off guard, the subject being the daily huddle (this was never debated before :). And I was surprised their proposal is more or less not supported by Agile manifesto (I think I overestimated their knowledge of Agile practices also). – Andreea Dec 5 '16 at 5:16
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Report? The team is totally missing the point. The Daily Scrum should be done to sync the Development Team effort to achieve the Sprint Goal. And that's need to hear everybody has something to say about the Increment.

Do you have any Kanban or task/Scrum/Agile/ board? If not, this could be a great advance as a transparency artifact (a reminder for everybody about what are they working on). And also if they want to start a discussion about something very specific they simply can put a mark in the PBI or task the want to discuss. I strongly encourage you to use it.

The communication is much richer f2f than writing and facilitates collaboration. I do not find a good justification for a meeting to be too long if it lasts less than 15 minutes. The first part of each speaker it what they have done to achieve the goal... so everybody has a reminder (if it's needed, because if the are working in a few PBIs, doing pair programming, there's no much need for theses reminders). As I said, a mark in a postit or just a paper to write blockers or topics which need further discussion should be enough).

Sometimes something so basic as what's commented above is not bought and the best way is trying what the team wants. You can find a new solution for your context or they just learn that written is not so good idea.

Sometimes there's another problem behind "I do not want a standup meeting", maybe it's something you could be attentive.

2

The stand-up should be an interactive discussion on how the sprint goal is progressing. If the team can do this via text chat, and it benefits them, the goal and the product increment, sure! If you're not dogmatic in applying Scrum and this gives everyone the best mileage, do it. Experiment, inspect, adapt.

However... If my team's stand-up would be via Slack, we would be typing ourselves silly for way more than 15 minutes. A wide range of subjects get's passed around on reaching the sprint goal, how we can help each other, what obstacles exist, are we still building what the product owner actually wants, et cetera. That daily realigning would be extremely inefficient if we had to type everything in place of old-school talking.

It sounds like your team's stand-up is really more of a status update. Perhaps your team and situation don't benefit from the kind of discussion I described. It's in my experience however more likely that they could get more value from the stand-up.

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Do what ever works for you. if f2f isn't being managed appropriately and people are allowed to dribble on for ages then thats not working!

There are some very cool slack bots that assist with doing daily scrum information collection you can use.

The main point is that people are providing quick short updates.. what the've recently done, what their current blockers are and what they are currently working on.

if a PM gets that via a bot every morning they can focus on the critical issues of getting the blockers out of the way quicker and then everyone works more efficiently.

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    No no no no. The standup is not for the PM to get updates. No. The standup is to ensure the dev team knows who is doing what and to remove blockers. – RubberDuck Dec 2 '16 at 10:50

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