Published: November 09, 2022 • 2 min read
I’ve been lucky to have worked with some great engineers, and one thing that they tend to do exceptionally well is reporting at standup.
Today I’d like to summarize what I think makes a great standup report. It should be informative, casual, and actionable.
Bring the expected information to your standup report. Time is limited and valuable.
On some teams, this is “yesterday, today, blockers.” I often omit yesterday’s work; it’s less likely to be relevant. Same with blockers; I try to resolve them before the meeting. And avoid situations where I’m frequently blocked.
Show up with the right information. Deliver it skillfully.
Engineers should get comfortable giving impromptu standup reports.
Showing up with some notes for your report is a great practice. I encourage it as you’re becoming comfortable with Agile. But if you’re doing daily standups, across time zones, you’ll have days where you don’t get the opportunity to prepare notes.
Before that happens, prepare by giving impromptu, casual reports. You must be able to wing it. The ability to describe complicated, shifting situations on the spot is a hallmark of a great senior engineer.
Standups are for decisions and problem solving, not research and coding.
A popular product management technique is “do, defer, delegate, delete”, and I think this applies excellently to standup. If it’s a truly small task, do it at standup. If it’s something that doesn’t need to be solved now, defer it. If it’s work that would better be handled by a different person than the current assignee, delegate it. If it’s unimportant work, delete it. Have a bias toward action.
Aside from an occasional demo, I try to keep my hands off the keyboard during standup. Programming to answer a question or investigate an unknown is tempting. But it often devolves into sidebars and yak-shaving (“one second, I have to reset my staging password”). Take it offline.
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Blog of Jake Worth, software engineer in Maine.