How solutionising in your standup burns time you dont want to waste

This will be a very short blog.

I have been to tonnes of standups…….. tonnes……, and its not uncommon to observe a lot of solutionising.

You might also call it tunnelling; its when two people quickly dissappear down a tunnel of thought around an issue and rapidly lose the group.  You will know its happening when other people start to lean, drift, sit down, check their phones etc….

The issue might be important, and it might not be, but developers are often tunnelers by nature.  They dont like problems, they want to solve them. You can’t hold that against them, and you dont want to be constantly shouting “take it offline” else the standup’s usefulness will be a bit too regimented and people might think you are a being a bit of a militant pain.

So dev leads, standup leaders, scrum masters, agile coaches, heres a reminder for you:  If you have a 20 (overly large) person stand up, for every 3 mins you spend solutionising, thats a whole hour of development effort.  In fact in this case, if you spend (God forbid) 20 mins solutionising on various topics, with 20 people you’ve just burned the best part of a day.  Is a day worth it just to solve a problem thats far smaller than a day? No!  Of course not.

The best thing to do in these situations is take the topic off line, with an agreement that the related parties will (pardon the expression) “get a room”!!

Of course the time burned depends on the size of the group.  In many projects every hour counts, so I have written a little table to highlight time burned by solutionising.

(I was going to say time wasted but I think projects burn time whether its wasted or not depends on the outcome)

I hope you find it helpful.

Group time Solutionising 30 secs 1 min 2 mins 5 mins 10 mins 20 mins 30 mins
with 5 people 2.5 mins 5 mins 10 mins 25 mins 50 mins 1h 40mins 2.5 hours
with 10 people 5 mins 10 mins 20 mins 40 mins 1h 40mins 3h20mins 5 hours
with 15 people 7.5 mins 15 mins 30 mins 1h 10mins 2h30mins 5h 7.5 hours
with 20 people 10 mins 20 mins 40 mins 1h 40mins 3h20mins 6h40mins 10 h

Oh ..
and a handy standup link for those who want to find out more about standup patters:

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2 Responses to How solutionising in your standup burns time you dont want to waste

  1. Andrew says:

    Dear Rob

    I agree with most of your comments. I have rarely been to a stand-up which has not diverted into a ‘solutionising’ discussion at some point. We have all been there and all know who the main culprits are.
    As you mentioned, the inevitable ‘take it offline’ comment sprints it’s way in from the corner but I often wonder why the ‘solutionising’ discussion kicks in, in the first place.

    Maybe it’s just human nature. We all have our opinions and some of us like sharing (I really want to say pushing) them more than others.
    Or maybe it’s inexperience? No, it can’t be that. I have worked with people who have 20+ years in IT (so they tell me) so I guess they have lots of experience.

    I vote for a moderator, either that or we just persist with the same.

    I draw your attention to an interesting, but not necessarily related, article below.


  2. rob says:

    Great point, human nature is definitely one. Standups are also a mirror to the team with various personalities standing (no pun) out. I like the idea of a moderator. Especially with the larger scrums.Others would say a strong scrummaster would do that job too, certainly not an easy task in some of the teams I have seen 😉

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