Ok so today I learn from one of our team members that they’re talking in code at stand up. I now have to try desperately hard to keep a straight face in the mornings.
By way of background for you – our team is still in early days, we’re a little dysfunctional (aren’t we all) and stand up at the moment doesn’t have the sense of common purpose that it probably should. I believe this is largely because we’re trying to combine two groups – incoming work and program management – which were previously separate functions with minimal overlap. Once something came through the front door for solution design, a project manager was assigned and the work became a project whilst our “presales” team went back to liaising with our customers about their next big ideas. And so this handover happened many many times over: Onboard, throw it over the fence and deliver. And that had worked well for us for a long time.
Fast forward to July this year, the two teams are being semi-combined into not-a-PMO function, but there’s some lead time until we start developing up “features” that cross everyone’s skill sets – and so standup and our wall today really reflect more of a personal task list of to-do items, rather than activities we share to achieve a common goal.
Coupled with this sense of “I’m vaguely interested in what my colleagues are working on but it has no relevance to my own work” we do of course also want to drive an outcome and so we’re seeing this behaviour where one personality (not the same one every time) will start to drive to “what are you working on today” or “what are you doing today” and then get down into detail of how we’re going to make this thing happen.
So that’s when a couple of our team started talking in code.
“we’ll give the tree a good shake” and “let’s kick it around for a bit and see what we come up with” are now code for “how do I get these guys off my back”. Unprompted, I’ve now been let in on the joke which apparently only started this week and now find myself in the awkward position of trying not to giggle and encourage this recalcitrant behaviour (even though I really am tempted to).
A few months ago I came across the “two hands rule” which we found worked really well in a large team (we had a program team of 20-odd in a single stand up every morning at one point). It’s a quick, handy way to keep people on track and remind us to talk about something after stand up, rather than trying to cram our whole communication for the day into a single 15 minute time slot every morning.