The daily stand-up – crisis management tool?

Many years ago, when I was working as a project manager in a large corporate environment on PRINCE2-governed projects, I once had the misfortune to report a project as RED on the old Red, Amber, Green status report (I can’t remember why).

Those of you who have done this before will immediately recognise that, in some organisations, this is a very bad idea. And mine was no exception. The red status is supposed to signify that the project is in imminent danger of failure unless action is taken by a senior stakeholder. In that company it was seen as not doing your job properly. What happened on my project was that I was assigned someone else to ‘help’ me. He took over everything and put in place a “rescue” procedure.

That procedure included running a short daily meeting in which all the key team members gave an update on the work they were busy with, which he checked off against my project plan.

I recently had cause to remember that while chatting with a colleague on the subject of the purpose of daily standups. They are one of the two most useful agile ceremonies – retrospectives being the other.

What struck me though, was that something that agilists take for granted is seen on waterfall projects as something to be introduced in an emergency. And, if it was an effective tool for a troubled project, why would it not be standard procedure on all projects?

Project managers who run daily stand-ups have told me that, even if they were told to go back to the old days and use a waterfall method, they would still hold a daily stand-up. It’s a pity that those who have not been exposed to agile have not had the opportunity to see the benefits it can bring in terms of being in full control of a project.

A daily stand-up on a waterfall project? Why not?

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About aterny

Agile enthusiast and evangelist, DSDM practitioner, trainer and coach. Specialist in Agile project and programme management, governance and organisational transformation
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