A Scrum Odyssey

20 October 2023 6 Minutes History

A journey away from daily scrum meetings, as a cycle of eight Shakespearean sonnets.


I had an unexpected and not entirely unpleasant experience in a recent retrospective meeting: all of the engineers on the team moved to stop having daily standup meetings altogether. Although I'm no stranger to working without standup meetings, and in many ways I prefer that way of working, I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest that the majority of engineers are fine with well-structured daily standups.

Even with a team that enjoys standup meetings however, there's value in breaking the norm, becoming more flexible, and trying things out. Maybe such a team would settle back into daily standups, maybe they'd find something else that works for them. Teams which don't enjoy their standups though will almost certaily settle on a new scheme.

I sat down to type out a guide on how and why a team might experiment with alternative approaches to the daily standup. But that came out so incredibly dry I weaved those points into a story demonstrating a hypothetical team undergoing that process. That resulted in something which I'm not entirely sure got the point across. But then I remembered that ChatGPT (insert eye roll here) is actually pretty good at generating Shakespearean sonnets (insert double eye roll here). So, I ran my story through the ringer and I present to you A Scrum Odyssey: A journey away from daily scrum meetings, as a cycle of eight Shakespearean sonnets:

The Rite of Dawn's Assembly #

In days of yore, where standups held their sway,
Religious teams to this rite did cling tight.
Believing in its might, they'd all display
Their tasks and toils, at morning's first light.

“'Tis the only path!” they’d loudly decree,
To boost our voice and our work's potency.
Yet, in this sea of daily scrutiny,
Did they e'er question its necessity?

For in their hearts, joy and productivity,
Seemed hand in hand with scrum's consistency.
But having not trod another pathway,
How sure were they, in their daily ballet?

To question not is to be but a drone,
Yet change may show more ways than they've known.

Whispers 'Midst the Court of Teams #

As time doth pass, objections loud do cry,
Standups draw long, and patience wears so thin.
Some feel the gaze of oversight too nigh,
Whilst others sigh at tales they're lost within.

The daily rite, once held in high esteem,
Now burdens hearts, and feels not quite so lean.
"Maintain the stand!" the managers exclaim,
"For knowledge's spread, 'tis the only regime."

Another quips, "'Tis how we stay aligned!"
Yet in their hearts, a restlessness they find.
The status quo, now feels a heavy chain,
With every voice, there grows a silent pain.

Unease doth spread, as waters dark and deep,
The team in hope, for change they might yet reap.

Into Uncharted Councils Steered #

In growing dissent, the teams make their stand,
To question the rites of daily discourse.
With keen eyes they search, across the vast land,
For new methods, their spirit to endorse.

The captains do doubt, and their concerns voice,
Yet vibrant ideas do from teams arise.
"Demos!" cries one, "Let our works make their noise!",
Another suggests, one-on-one 'neath the skies.

Pair programming, reviews, new tactics bloom,
As weary traditions begin to wane.
The tides of change, they sweep away the gloom,
Old ways dissolve, as new paths become plain.

Thus in the dance of time and adaptability,
Teams find their stride, and new possibility.

Quests in the Halls of Converse #

In search of ways, the teams diverge their path,
Asynchronous rites, emails that they pen,
Fewer meets they seek, to avoid the wrath,
Of daily drudgery, again and again.

More intimate chats, one-on-one they hold,
In pair programming, they sharpen their skill.
Exploring each method, both new and old,
They weigh every boon, every bitter pill.

Managers, once stern, now their gaze doth shift,
Witnessing changes, benefits unfold.
Yielding their ground, as sands of time do sift,
Embracing the new, releasing the old.

In the grand ballet of work's ebb and flow,
Teams evolve, and brighter futures they sow.

Where Two Worlds in Concert Meet #

From all the trials, some choices do emerge,
Asynchronous standups, the globe's teams cheer.
For visual minds, digital boards surge,
As preferred tools, their thoughts to make clear.

Meetings grow few, much to all's delight,
Those that remain, are purposeful and keen.
Gone are the days of endless oversight,
In place, moments of value are seen.

"Support!" cry the captains, in newfound glee,
Feeling the strength of their teams' tethered core.
From the throes of old, they now are set free,
Bonded and strong, as never before.

From trials and tests, the best paths are clear,
Teams and their leaders, in harmony steer.

Musing on Fortune's Fickle Hand #

With shifts in tide, come trials unforeseen,
Some souls do long for morning meetings past.
An anchor lost, in routines once serene,
Others claim that commitment's not so vast.

Managers note, their gaze oft on boards dwell,
More than before, in this changed paradigm.
For in each change, some benefits dispel,
Replaced by costs, in this evolving time.

"No method’s perfect," the team concedes true,
Every path has its toll, its weight to bear.
But in pursuit of what’s best, they pursue,
Balancing gains, with costs they must wear.

In life’s grand dance of loss and of gain,
Teams learn to thrive, through pleasure and pain.

Melding Yesteryears with the Morrow #

From experiments vast, wisdom teams glean,
Blending the best from methods they've tried.
A hybrid emerges, both fresh and seen,
Balancing old and new, side by side.

Asynchronous notes, for days in-between,
With face-to-face meets, weekly they decide.
Though returning to paths once before seen,
They come renewed, with broader stride.

Most vital of all, in this new phase,
Teams claim their process, its reins they hold.
Each member engaged, in collective praise,
For a system by them, shaped and molded.

From trials diverse, a way they have found,
Where every voice in harmony does sound.

Ascendance Beyond Time's Norms #

In newfound grace, the teams now flex and bend,
Having learnt the worth of norms held askew.
Witnessed have they, to what change can tend,
The boon of steps, both retraced and anew.

The culture's hue, to feedback does incline,
Embracing shifts, with open arms and heart.
Where once was rigidity, now they entwine
Flexibility, as their foremost art.

Managers see, that control's grip too tight,
Does not always lead to the best of ways.
Productivity, in this newfound light,
Reaches peaks unseen, to everyone's praise.

From challenging norms, to heights unforeseen,
They've journeyed forth, with purpose evergreen.

Hi, I'm Ian

I'm a software engineer, architect, and team leader in Minneapolis. My career has largely focused on .NET and web technologies, spread across several industries. Currently I'm working for Crate & Barrel on their ecommerce solutions. You can find me on this blog, contributing to open source repositories, and at conferences around the Midwest.

If you'd like to keep up with me, please subscribe to my book club or RSS feed. If you'd like to help me out with server costs, I would be forever grateful if you bought me a coffee!

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