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I’m not a big fan of stand-ups. Having practiced them on a number of teams over a number of years, I find that they’ve become a routine that many are faced with and participate in just because, well, they have to.

Recently during a presentation I asked the audience how many of them enjoy or found stand-ups useful. I’d say approximately 90% said they didn’t think they’re useful. And I’m guessing just like myself, many phase out at stand-ups until it’s their turn to participate. Sure, we might hear, but we’re not necessarily listening. And there’s a difference between these.

Quite a few people have written about stand-ups or if they’re killing your team. Personally I believe many of the issues we address in stand-ups boil down to a single thing: trust.

But I don’t want to rehash the same points others have made. I do want to however comment on what some people say stand-ups are good for: communication.

Let’s face it, and as I said recently, if your team is only communicating 15 minutes a day, then you have a problem. And that’s not going to be solved with stand-ups.

Getting comfortable

As developers, we’re usually stereotyped as introverts that have issues communicating. I’m not going to pass judgement on this, but if this is the case, forcing someone to communicate a few words about their progress or issues they’ve run into isn’t contributing to improving these skills.

Believe it or not, what can help improve communication between team members is getting to know each other. Whether you’re working on a team for a long time or just joined, have one on ones with different people on the team, or people on different teams. Talk to them, not only about work but other things. Their interests, your interests, what things you have or don’t have in common.

Now it’s true that some people have a natural tendency to strike a conversation much easier than others. If you’re that person on the team, then be the enabler, work with other people on the team that might have difficulties to engage. If you’re shy, if you’re the person that finds it hard to just talk about nothing, then find an excuse. Ask for help on something you’re stuck with. Do it several times. Eventually you’ll find that you can also talk about other things.

The best way to enable communication is to become comfortable with people. And that only happens when you get to know them. A tense stand-up during which people are either phased out or judging you, certainly won’t make that happen.

Let’s stop ticking the “Communication” checkbox because we’re having a stand-up.