Staying on the Same Page without a Standup

Many software teams use stand-up meetings to keep everyone on the same page and maintain accountability. Stand-ups are great but they have some major flaws: they’re synchronous, everyone needs to be in the room (or on the phone), and often after the meeting much of the content is lost. At Dispatch we’ve been trying something a bit different and it’s been working really well. We call it Show and Tell.

Instead of reporting in at a meeting, every member of the team sends an email to everyone else with an update on their work. It’s got the usual stand-up stuff: yesterday’s work, today’s work, and any blockers. We tend to send them as we begin to dive into the day. This means that Mike can send his update at 7am when he starts work and Nick can send his at 10:30 a.m. when he dives in. No one’s flow gets broken and we can work whenever we feel most productive.

If anyone needs to start a conversation about a status update, they can just hit reply and talk over email. Because we use Dispatch (shameless plug), those emails only go to the relevant people - I don’t get emails when Jesse asks Mike about his update. Should something come up that has to be taken care of synchronously, we’re on instant messenger all day. We can talk frictionlessly about what’s going on.

On top of this, if I ever have a question about what someone has been working on I can always glance back at their updates. No need to take notes in a stand-up or bother someone with questions, it’s all right there in Dispatch. I can even see the conversations that I wasn’t a part of.

This concept isn’t a new one. Companies like Foursquare and Google do something similar. Google does weekly emails instead of daily ones. They serve the same purpose. Everyone can stay up to date on what everyone else is working on, without too many meetings and anyone can easily go find out what others are up to with almost no work.

PS: I’d love to hear how your team stays on the same page, tweet me.


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