Anyone else here hate scrum standups?

Oct 29, 2018 282 Comments

I hate giving daily standup updates. There is so much pressure from management to say you completed some deliverable every single day.

But in reality, in order to do good work, I need to sometimes just spend a whole day doing research, or meeting with other teams, or writing documentation, or learning a new codebase, or learning a new tech stack, or making prototypes.

And sometimes, weird bugs crop up and can delay me for days on end, but after I fix the issue, I could make a permanent fix (or at least document a workaround) and prevent other engineers across the company from having the same problem.

Yet, every time I take the time to be thorough and do things the right way, the management questions me why I don't have daily deliverables. They ask, every day, what deliverables I have completed yesterday and which ones I will complete today.

Not every day is going to have deliverables! And doing all the non-deliberable prep work and research is ultimately going to make the product better and make it possible for future deliverables to be done faster!

And yet, every day, in the standup, I am pressured to tell some story about directly delivering something. Do you want me to lie to you??? I hate this.

And then it completely ruins the entire rest of the day because I spend it feeling resentful about the things the management keeps asking me to do despite the fact that what I actually do is in their best interests too!

Maybe I should just break everything and "deliver results" all the time like they're asking me to! Horrible, buggy crap that will break ops for everyone and be impossible for anyone else to understand!

I can't even prove to them how much good I am doing because nothing seems valuable until it breaks.

At least I have lots of documentation, principal engineers, and external teams to vouch for me if shit hits the fan...

As far as I can tell, daily standups have just become a poor excuse for micromanagement, and enable the enforcement of dangerously misguided priorities.

Anyone else in the same boat?

If not, what are standups like for your team, and how do you prevent them from devolving into this kind of horrible mess?

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TOP 282 Comments
  • Scrum is a scam... it's a tool to enable micro management and mindless race to finish
    Oct 29, 2018 9
    • Microsoft conscience
      ... while obfuscating accountability and typically abdicating good planning, as well as destroying any predictive capability of scheduling . That is, as usually practiced. Most proponents claim that if you do it the one true way, it all miraculously works. But I’ve never seen any team ever do it the “right” way.

      I’m sure it works great for shipping a new .0001 release of a web service every four weeks.
      Oct 30, 2018
    • Verizon aOOC32
      Daily updates good, scrum stupid. Nothing wrong with sharing where you are on a project on a day to day basis.
      Oct 30, 2018
    • Bloomberg Ceki18
      How is daily updates different from scrum?
      Oct 30, 2018
    • Verizon aOOC32
      Less of an expectation. Versus deliverables and what you intend on finishing. If I was a manager I’d want to know my teams plans for the day.

      I find scrum to be here’s what I did I expected to complete yesterday/did complete, and then the next day when I wasn’t able to I feel like a manger obsessed with scrum looks poorly at your lack of ability to finish. I guess it’s really how your leadership gears that type of meeting then.
      Oct 30, 2018
    • SAP wmmpd
      Scrum needs a mature team and management to work. And the positive benefits will take a few releases at least, to show, for a beginner team. It is not something that can be twisted to make things work, and even if made to work in the short term, will not be sustainable in the long term.
      Oct 30, 2018
  • New Borax
    I feel like ur team is using stand ups wrong. Ours take like 15 20min tops and it's to negotiate any blocker or needs, and quickly check status to see if we're on track for the sprint. Sprint review is the time we review completion.
    Oct 29, 2018 7
    • Oracle / IT pFiR53
      Exactly what I was going to say. You’re using stand ups incorrectly. They should be for developers to help each other out and last only 15 minutes.
      Oct 30, 2018
    • Totally agree. Stand ups are specifically for barrier escalation and removal. If they take longer than 15 minutes, the problem is most likely the sprint itself. Or the Scrummaster is failing at their job.
      Oct 30, 2018
    • Postmates xFSR58
      Same
      Oct 30, 2018
    • Dell / Eng techjoker
      +1
      Oct 30, 2018
    • Agoda.com Qafe3r
      I don't think there is any hard and fast rule
      If you constantly need to add new tasks each Sprint you clearly plan poorly
      But a rule to never add task is also dumb
      Nov 4, 2018
  • Microsoft / Product @zzz
    I can see why you hate scrum. Your post was too long, keep it short, precise and concise. There is no pressure or expectation nor judgment, just a quick status of where you are.
    Oct 29, 2018 3
    • Amazon / Eng a mistake
      OP
      This was a rant, not a standup update.

      And unfortunately, there is pressure and judgement in my team's standup. Sounds like your team is doing a much better job than mine though.
      Oct 29, 2018
    • Microsoft / Product @zzz
      I mostly watch and attend now and then (I am a pm). And yes, that's what stand ups or scrum are for, quick status, unblocking people, anything changed etc. Judgements or pressure can be applied in other places - manager meetings and such.
      Oct 29, 2018
    • Vertivco / Eng
      FastPapuan

      Vertivco Eng

      PRE
      YouTube, American Bureau of Shipping, Facebook
      FastPapuanmore
      Looks like it's time to open up some new req's and put people on web dev plan.
      Oct 30, 2018
  • Booz Allen Hamilton Cisa 101
    As a certified scrum master I think they are great if done properly
    Oct 30, 2018 4
    • Intel sillycon
      First half of sentence invalidates second half
      Oct 30, 2018
    • Wayfair addA30
      Oooooh wow you took a one-day course with no prerequisites and now you're Certified. Should we be impressed that you think a practice that validates your role is "great if done properly"?

      Literally everything is "great if done properly."
      Oct 30, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng WRyY10
      As a certified butt wiper I think you smell like poo.
      Oct 30, 2018
    • It’s a f’ing open book test. Good job scum masterbater.
      Oct 30, 2018
  • Tableau B@B@r@cu$
    Back in my Microsoft days I was stuck on a team that would insist on having these at like 8-9am because the engineering manager was a fucking freak who got up before 5 AM every day and insisted on being in the office by 7 (which, yknow, personal choice and all but not everybody can swing a schedule like this).

    It got to a point where these would drag on close to an hour as people went off on endless tangents.

    In the waning days of that team (it was a big team) some hero would occasionally dial into the meeting via phone and flush the toilet on the call.

    Here's to you, toilet flusher. You had the right idea.
    Oct 30, 2018 4
  • Verizon john123
    One guy n my team gives update for like 15 min. He just literally tells each and every line he coded . Hate him to the core
    Oct 30, 2018 12
    • Intuit rd5980
      Your scrum master needs to fix that.
      Oct 30, 2018
    • New / Eng cato
      Scrum masters all seem like tools. Why is that? Are there good ones?
      Oct 30, 2018
    • Amazon So true
      I have seen people talking about individual emails they sent to this and that; what can you do in a day to report duh.
      Oct 30, 2018
    • Our scrum master doesn’t have tech knowledge. So he believes the person who blabbers a lot
      Oct 30, 2018
    • TouchTunes Interactive Networks ODne34
      I’ve yet to encounter a scrum master that wasn’t a waste of skin.
      Oct 31, 2018
  • Amazon / Eng sde3
    The problem is your shitty management, not scrum update. I cant count how many times I say I didnt do shit yesterday and would do random shit today.
    Oct 29, 2018 2
    • Amazon / Eng a mistake
      OP
      I agree. But they don't listen when I (and some other engineers) tell them we are doing this wrong.

      What team or org are you in?
      Oct 29, 2018
    • Teradata uvur74
      And if your shit is blocked, the management can give laxatives !!
      Oct 29, 2018
  • New / Eng uhYr23
    During the past 2 years of giving standup updates, I realized it's quite an art to give away the "right" amount of information to management at every stanup. Give them the right level of abstraction and don't expose details. Pay attention to people who are good at this and are not being picked up on during the standup. It helps to prepare bullet points beforehand, not to improvise. Also document your bullet points.
    Oct 29, 2018 11
    • Amazon / Eng a mistake
      OP
      And I don't. If I did research for a day, I'll say so. They just then tell me I'm underperforming...
      Oct 29, 2018
    • New / Eng uhYr23
      They like engineers who do things quickly, even if it creates tech debt. Do minimum required research enough for coding a solution
      Oct 29, 2018
    • New / Eng uhYr23
      Also I realized people constantly through the ball to other people's side to save themselves. Be smart about that, blame technique sometime works. Don't let them telling you that you're underperforming.
      Oct 29, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng a mistake
      OP
      Yeah, it's hard to find the right balance. Like I said, I've been documenting everything I possibly can, and getting the ok from other teams and external senior devs. (That is, they agree with my prioritization and time allocation.) So if they actually try to do something about me, I have a lot of other stuff justifying my actions.

      Plus, most other devs on the team are on my side too, and feel the same way. (Many are considering leaving the team.)
      Oct 29, 2018
    • SAP wmmpd
      This is terrible micro-management and NOT Scrum. Your management needs a serious grounds-up learning on what Scrum is and what it isn't. Micro-management is NOT Scrum, neither is interfering in ceremonies that are held SPECIFICALLY for the team.

      Read the Chicken & Egg analogy in Scrum (the team being the Pig, everyone else being a Chicken) :

      https://en.wikipedia.org.wiki/The_Chicken_and_the_Pig
      Oct 30, 2018
  • Expedia / Product
    0ptimi1st

    Expedia Product

    PRE
    Microsoft
    BIO
    Ask me
    0ptimi1stmore
    Management shouldn’t be part of standup
    Oct 30, 2018 2
    • Intuit rd5980
      Management can attend stand ups but should not be demanding anything. If the process is not working, it’s likely a lack of understanding and experience for how to run it. Scrum Masters own the process, not managers. Managers should never be Scrum Masters as it introduces an imbalance of power. Teams don’t feel they are allowed to challenge the manager and then make Orr participate in bad decisions.
      Oct 30, 2018
    • SAP wmmpd
      Exactly, what OP's team is doing is not Scrum. Anyone outside the team should only be a silent spectator at the Stand up. And it is not even recommended management attend the Stand Up regularly. Why should they? One of the key components of Lean is an empowered, self-governing team. THEY are committed, anyone else is just involved and should keep silent when participating in the team's Scrum ceremonies.

      To answer OP specifically, every bit of non-coding work is as much a deliverable. It'd appear your management has no clue AT ALL how Scrum works. EVERY thing you do can and should go as a task on your Scrum board. In Tech, we say there is no such thing as a free lunch, well, as far as Engineering efforts go, there is no such thing as a 0 effort task. Often, the design of a feature/ product takes more time than the actual coding itself. That is precisely how it should be: Invest the necessary time in designing the deliverable so that when it's actually time to code, the implementation is fast & smooth (talking about cases in general, exceptions are different) .

      TLDR: it appears your management & the team would highly benefit from a Scrum/ Lean / Agile workshop & mentoring.

      It is said of Scrum:

      Scrum is not a magic bullet or a pill that you swallow to make all your deliverables suddenly get done faster & better. Rather, Scrum surfaces things which do NOT work. Whether it be inter-personal relationships in the team, non-collaboration, management trying to dictate rules while outwardly professing allegiance to Agile (as in OP's case), Scrum will bring out what's broken in your team/ system.
      Oct 30, 2018
  • Amazon / Eng jNeo42
    The daily stand ups are there to remind SDEs that we are no better than FC workers. We, too, have daily quotas. If you attend a C2FC (which you should), they have a daily standup to motivate (and perform some simple stretches). This is not a very popular opinion on here, but you cannot convince me that SDEs are just glorified FC workers. Don’t be surprised if our office space is moved to the back rooms of these massive facilities — the leadership of the company sees us as working class code pushers just as they see FC associates as blue collar grunts who will follow orders and meet quotas. It’s what I hate the most about being an SDE for this company.
    Oct 29, 2018 7
    • Amazon qwer1234at
      Is there really a conspiracy? I think some people think this way and some don't.
      Oct 30, 2018
    • True!
      Oct 30, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng jNeo42
      Conspiracy, WTF? I didn’t suggest anything like that. It’s corporate life.
      Oct 30, 2018
    • You guys are glorified laborers in our eyes, replaceable just like any assembly worker in GMs plant. I know you won’t like to hear that...
      Oct 31, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng jNeo42
      @vanquisher Amazon is a great teacher of this. Those early in their careers at other high TC companies have been lulled into thinking they’re special. I wish I could go back to being a clueless and arrogant 20-something, but time is a brutal thief.
      Oct 31, 2018

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