For the second time I find myself approving of a Daily Stand-up that is longer than 15 minutes. This is different than a Daily Meeting that is declared complete and then a problem solving session (often with only part of the team) takes place while the issues are fresh in people’s minds.
Meet Carrie (pretend that is her real name). The team she is part of is “sort of” collocated. Most of them occupy a portion of a massive cube farm that makes collaboration a one or two person event at a time. The Daily Stand-Up meeting is a sit-down and lasts about a half-hour. On the other hand, they joke and laugh and have a good time for about 15 minutes before settling into the real purpose of the meeting. I asked Carrie, “Does it help?”
The answer to this one question convinced me this was the perfect thing to do. Carrie responded, “Yes, this is the time where they get to bond and have fun together. There are no similar interactions like this any other time. It really brings the team together! Sprints go much better since this started.” I thought, “What a great use of 15 minutes!”
I realized I had seen this before with an executive team using Scrum practices to run the company. A Product Backlog and Sprint Task Board covered part of their beautiful view in the meeting room that adjoined the CEO’s office. They were faithful with Sprint cadences, periodic retrospectives and velocity tracking. They used some kanban practices to pull their stories through. It was very focused and productive.
Yet, the daily meeting with all the CxO’s, and legal counsel took 30 minutes every day. It always started out with good-humored needling, a touch of politics, local business happenings, and even a few pranks. Most of it was extremely funny and no one was “safe.” The standard meeting goals were always accomplished, and the group would head back to their offices. It took me awhile to realize this meeting was a bonding activity more than an agile meeting. They had adopted their “daily 15 minutes of fun.”
Sometimes we forget how much we work at a break-neck pace. Sometimes we need to relax and have some fun. Like continuous integration, where we bite off small chunks of “pain” instead of enduring excruciating integration phases, frequent bits of fun is a great way to do business.
For those of us lucky enough to be on collocated teams, we may not need extra fun. For those of us that need a bit more fun at work, try something new. I believe developing great software is both a creative and technically challenging endeavor. If doing it is not fun then something is wrong. We must figure out why it is not fun and do something about it.