Daily standups are a “daily build” to address drift in team product development

When you work in teams, you will need to deal with drift.

When you work in team-based product development, you will need to deal with drift.

By drift, I mean an increasing mismatch in understanding about:

  • the problem we’re trying to solve;
  • the solution we’re attempting;
  • each other and how to relate.

Drift in shared understanding creates confusion, mistakes, and generally a bad working experience.

Drift also happens in larger-scale programming.

Drift also occurs in larger-scale programming, where “larger-scale” means more than one programmer. Code diverges as individual programmers work in separate workspaces or branches.

Programmers typically describe this problem as “integration” and there are well-known techniques (daily/nightly builds, continuous integration) to address it.

Daily standups are daily builds for team understanding.

Daily standups ensure understanding is integrated across a team at least once a day.

If daily standups are like daily builds, then whole team programming (aka mobbing / ensemble) is like continuous integration. This is why whole team programming practitioners typically question the value of daily standups.

NOTE: I’d also consider frequent pair rotation to be pretty close to continuous integration of understanding.

Continuous integration on the team; daily sync across teams.

Even if you are continuously integrating team understanding with whole team programming or frequent pair rotation, this doesn’t mean there’s no role for a daily standup. Even if we continuously integrate on a team, it’s unlikely we’re continuously integrating across teams, nor would we necessarily want to.

My recommendation: continuous integration of understanding on teams (through frequent pair rotation or whole team programming); regular syncs (daily if appropriate) across teams.

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