Killing the standup
I’ve got a really specific suggestion for you today: Ditch the daily standup meeting. Update your team asynchronously instead.
Let me explain.
I’ve long been a fan of standups—those daily team sessions where everyone gets up from their desk and shares what they did yesterday, what they’re up to today, and whether they’ve run into any obstacles. It’s great to hear people put their work into words and to create some kind of plan for the day.
And voicing the things that are blocking your progress means others can jump in to help tackle them and get you moving again.
That can all be helpful, for sure. But there are drawbacks: Everyone needs to be present at the same time. As the group grows, standups can run long. If the team isn’t in the habit of asking clarifying questions, you can get away with a lot or end up repeating yourself over and over. And would you look at that, we’ve now created a ritual that’s a little helpful to some of the people some of the time. But because it’s a fixed meeting, everyone has to show up anyway.
Also: the timing of standups can be a disaster. I knew this from experience, but now we’re starting to see some data coming in with Rise. Standups tend to happen in the morning between 9:30 and 11. People often start their workday around 8 or 9—some earlier, some later. That means that most people have a gap before and after their standup—longer than you need for, say, catching up on email, but not long enough to tackle anything serious.
Just like that, your morning’s gone.
Now think again about that interruption we put ourselves through every day. Is it really more valuable than those precious, productive morning hours?
There’s a simple solution: make standups asynchronous.
Making standups asynchronous
With async standups you’ll keep the benefits of daily updates, but it’s no longer a live meeting that everyone has to plan their morning around.
Here’s how we do it at Rise:
We have a designated Slack channel called #standup
When you start your workday, you share what you were up to yesterday and what you’ve got planned for the day
I know there are tools out there that can help, by sending out automatic reminders and setting off alarms if someone doesn’t share. But honestly I don’t think that’s needed.
Could we ditch standups altogether?
Possibly. In our case, when we last discussed our workflow, we voted to keep it. Mostly because it’s good practice to think about your day before getting started.
Here are three more reasons to go async:
You’ll build an open log of what’s happening in your team that you can all refer to and explore anytime. I use it when reflecting on the past quarter and when writing out investor updates.
If you’re out for a day or back from a break, it’s a really nice lowkey way to figure out what you’ve missed. The notes in the #standup channel are a great starting point, then you can ask people about specifics.
It opens the door for people with different schedules. We have a guy on our team who lives in Brazil, so his workday starts around lunchtime in Amsterdam. For a classic standup, we’d have to wait until then, which would be less helpful for the rest of us than doing it early. Now he can just catch up when he starts his day, and we get to see his update after lunch.
This approach can work for any meeting that’s mostly just status updates, but standups are a great place to start. Want to pitch this idea in your team? Suggest trying async standups for two weeks as an experiment. If you hate it or if it slows down progress—you can always go back to how you do things now.
Does it help move you forward? Then it’s a keeper.
Enjoy your week,