The Mixup: Standups vs. Status Meetings

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It bugs me when people refer to a “status meeting” as a “standup”.  It probably shouldn’t because it’s only semantics, but I’m a language nerd, what can I say?  I’m hoping we can nip this loose use of the language in the bud because I don’t want us to unlearn the distinction between the two types of meetings.

To me, a “standup” is a very specific type of meeting.  A “standup” is a colloquliasm for the “daily meeting” in the the Scrum software development process.  In this meeting, the team comes together for a brief period of time to evaluate progress toward their goal.

It is customary that to keep the daily meeting short, teams will have the meeting, literally, standing up.  The theory was that people can only stand comfortably for a short period of time, so that would keep the meeting brief.  Hence, people started referring to the “daily meeting” as the “standup”.

A “status meeting” is something all together different.  A status meeting is when people get together and go around the room giving status updates on the projects they’re working on.  Sometimes this meeting is held standing up, to keep it moving along quickly, and that’s why they get called standups.  But, they’re not really standups at all.

The key thing to remember about the daily meeting/standup is something you might have glossed over just a moment ago, so let me highlight that:

…the team comes together for a brief period of time to evaluate progress toward their goal.

In other words, here’s how I would draw a distinction:

  • A “status meeting” is a meeting where each person tells the other people what they’re working on.
  • A “standup” is where the team discusses how they’re tracking toward a goal.

I’ve seen a lot of status meetings called standups. That’s annoying, but not the end of the world. What’s worse is that I’ve see a lot of actual Scrum standups behave like status meetings.

So, if you’re on a Scrum team, next time you’re at standup ask yourself this question: are we having a discussion about progress toward the goal (i.e. how the team is tracking toward completing the work committed to in this sprint)? Or, are we just sharing with everyone else the things we’re working on?


Written by scottporad

March 3rd, 2013 at 8:13 am

Posted in Miscellaneous

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