There is enough written about effective and more so ineffective stand-ups. This time I want to explore the idea of what happens after a stand-up is over.
Specifically, the moment stand-up ends, what happens right after. There are two styles I want to kind of dive into: Parking-Lot, and Nothing.
First up is the parking-lot or dev huddle. There may be other terms, but it’s easy to spot because it is a fairly formalized time that allows the team or a sub-set to have time set aside to continue a conversation after the stand-up is over.
This can be a pretty great thing. A really good sign of a successful stand-up is excitement to dive into topics amongst interested members of the team. We should all be so lucky to be a part of a stand-up that actually sparked that magical, “C,” word: Collaboration.
Then, a good parking-lot or huddle would be a purpose built container for those topics to be discussed and collaboration to continue, maybe even with some solid facilitation. I say solid facilitation should be a part of it because there may be many topics that need to be covered to varying degrees. Also, these discussions tend to have multiple agendas that need to be addressed. To get the best of it, facilitation is probably going to help keep that collaborative moment going well for all the interested parties.
What then, would make this kind of a bummer? Well, let’s imagine a stand-up that doesn’t have the spark. Then imagine a formal time on your calendar for 30 more minutes to, “Deep-dive.” Sounds great right? Imagine again that this time is only for some people, and not for others. Or, imagine that lurking behind that last statement there is an connotation of who is valuable and who isn’t. Imagine it turns into a conversation where no insights are gathered, the conversation meanders and rambles until some other calendar appointment comes up, and people leave less sure than they started?
So there is the formal time set aside for conversations and collaboration to continue. The other concept is to let it happen organically.
This is also pretty great, and just like before, the buzz created from a good stand-up will naturally want to continue into more detailed conversations or whiteboarding.
The interesting thing is that we don’t intentionally set a time for this to happen. We simply let the team go for it themselves. I don’t want to seem snarky, but this to me, a great expression of self-organization. The other interesting aspect that happens is that often teams that have high levels of trust, will split themselves off to talk about specific topics. In other words, instead of working through a topic list where only some people may care or want to engage on it, everyone self selects to the ones that they have the most interest or impact in. Trust becomes a factor, because what comes out of these conversations can be radical and of tremendous significance. The only way that works is if the team trusts one another to communicate back out and invite more and more in to see what is on the table.
Now, what would make this a bummer? Well, lets start at where we just left off. The team actually doesn’t have that level of trust, and so small cliques and factions form where they begin to inflict their decisions to everyone. Another bummer that is possible is that resentment begins to form between those who were in the room and those who, “Should have chosen differently.” This looks like a team that has little to no patience or outright frustration when one asks for context or information from the others. Lastly, some teams never realize that it is perfectly fine for them to take their hands off their keyboards and talk. They have been conditioned to so narrowly define work as time at a computer that they never think to relax and let the creative juices flow.
Well, I don’t know your team, culture, trust, or any number of things. Hopefully you do. The team certainly does. What makes sense for where you are now? Would having some time set aside to get the ball rolling help? Does your team simply need encouragement and permission to talk?
Point is, one option isn’t right or wrong, just more appropriate now than the other. Tomorrow it can change, but the value of a team collaborating on how they can best deliver value and strive for excellence together is worth it.