Daria the Developer Hates Daily Standup

This week’s post is a guest article by Dillon Forrest, Product Manager & Growth Hacker

Daria the Developer shows up to work at 8:55am, a bit early for her daily standup at 9am. Most of her coworkers roll into the office in the next few minutes. Nobody’s gotten their coffee yet.

At 9am on the dot, the project manager power walks through Daria’s section of the bullpen and says, “Standup time, good morning everybody, let’s go everybody, come on everybody, standup time, let’s go! Starting at 9am sharp!”

There are 12 people on the calendar invite for this team: 5 developers, 1 designer, 1 product manager, 2 QA managers, 1 project manager, the VP of Engineering, and the CTO.

The VP Eng and CTO aren’t present, but that’s normal. They never show up for daily standup. They haven’t attended a daily standup since Daria joined the company. They are both adamant about everybody showing up at 9am sharp for standup, but they themselves might roll into the office around 10:30.

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Two developers and a QA manager are late. The seven present team members stand in a circle in the center of the bullpen, and the project manager insists on starting the daily standup without the absent coworkers. The project manager is quite impressive at following orders from the higher-ups when it comes to starting meetings on time.

The two tardy developers roll into the office at 9:05am, and sadly they’ve missed the daily update from three people already. Tardy Developer #1 hasn’t taken off his jacket or bag yet, but the project manager jumps at the chance to suggest that Tardy Developer #1 give his update.

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The Ultimate Guide to Remote Standups

Remote work is growing fast in the United States.

Since 2005, the number of people working from home at least half the time has more than doubled according to Global Workplace Analytics. Even more interesting, as many as 90% of workers in the US would prefer to work from home a few days each week.

Work as we know it is changing.

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And while most would agree that the trend is positive, there are plenty of growing pains associated with remote work, namely meetings. As offices change, communication is changing too.

For better or worse, meetings are a staple of nine to five life. But the traditional model doesn’t translate well in remote settings, where people are spread across time zones, coffee shops and coworking spaces. Asynchronous communication is key to making a distributed team work. It’s time to rethink the way me meet.

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Google’s Unwritten Rule for Team Collaboration

This week’s article is a guest post by Paul Berkovic. Paul is Co-founder and CMO at ScribblePost (productivity software for capturing and sharing task and project information with anyone, anywhere).

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We do a lot of collaborating these days. But despite the number of open offices, designated “thinking” areas, and our managerial focus on small teams, we still haven’t mastered collaborative work.

In fact, we’re really bad at it.

The point of collaborating is to get everyone in a group involved and exercising their strengths. But according to the Harvard Business Review, “In most cases, 20% to 35% of value-added collaborations come from only 3% to 5% of employees.” In most collaborative teams, the bulk of the work still comes from a minority of participants.

In response to this imbalance in their own organization, Google launched Project Aristotle, an internal research project studying Google teams to discover why some were superior collaborators.

Google has a known penchant for quantifying everything. Project Aristotle expected to find something quantifiable, like the optimal team size or the most productive structure for group meetings. But Project Aristotle hit the ultimate irony: the key to collaboration is not a quantifiable. In fact, it wasn’t even codified. The best teams don’t have a measurable, highly visible solution to collaboration—they have an unwritten social code.

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Introducing: The Penalty Jar

We’re excited to announce the biggest game changer in I Done This history: the Penalty Jar! It’s a simple way to keep you motivated to accomplish your daily goals.

I Done This has always embraced workplace happiness, productivity, and team communication. We’ve been encouraging our users to knock their to-do lists out of the park and been right there to congratulate them when they succeed. But this new feature takes things in a different direction.

For years, we’ve been all about the carrot. But now, we’re going to try the stick.

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From this day forward, I Done This will charge users $10 for every goal they fail to accomplish!

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The Most Effective Way of Combating the Problem of Standup Tardiness

You’re responsible for coordinating a daily standup with a team of developers, and you’re consistently faced with the same pesky problem: standup tardiness.

Every day you try to have a standup at about the same time, and no matter how hard you try, someone still doesn’t show up on time. This wouldn’t be as big a deal if it were an hour long meeting, but missing eight minutes of standup is missing most of it! Or, if you don’t start without them, you find yourself waiting fifteen minutes to hold a ten minute meeting. The whole point of the standup is to quickly communicate your daily schedule.

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You’ve tried different times of the day, you’ve tried giving warnings, and you’ve even stopped making them physically stand up—but, still, all your efforts have proven futile.

The reason: one fundamental misunderstanding between developers and managers.

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3 Reasons to Embrace Your Team’s New Workflow Tool

Your first email of the day is an announcement from management: next week, the whole team has to replace a tool you all rely on with something new. You groan and facepalm. It’s hard enough to keep up with everything as it is—you try new workflow tools all the time. As you work, you bounce between email, Slack, Telegram and Skype. You’ve got Dropbox, Google Drive and Evernote on tap.

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The average American office worker changes windows around 37 times an hour, which feels like too many, but there’s no way around it: employees these days aren’t going to get anywhere unless they’re extremely tech-savvy. Don’t be that person who still uses dial-up in 2016.

The companies that destroy the competition win because they’re “digitally mature,” meaning they quickly adapt their business to cutting edge technology. The maturest of the mature have been christened “the digirati.”

Your employer’s success depends on your ability to take on new tech and incorporate it into the company’s culture and processes. New workflow tools aren’t a pain—they’re pivotal. Here’s why.

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How to Manage the Distinct Personalities of your Remote Team

So you think it’s time for your company to take the plunge and go remote. While you and your team begin to hammer out the details, new concerns bubble up—what if your staff burn out or fall through the cracks? Managing a team with such diverse personalities is tricky enough when you’re under one roof—you can only imagine how it’s going to be once everyone disperses.

Of course, some personalities are better suited for remote work than others. Some members of your remote team will punch the air and run home when you announce that you’re going remote. Others might glance hopelessly around at their office friends, at their favorite desk, at the cozy couch, and not know how to deal.

You can’t 100% predict who will love working remotely and who’ll flounder, but if you’re prepared, you can meet each member of your team halfway to set them up for success.

Here’s a breakdown of the different characters you might have on your team, and how to help them through the transition so they’ll thrive in your (newly) remote business.

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What I Learned From Managing an International Remote Team

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Guest post by Nils Vinje of Glide Consulting. A version of this post appeared on the Glide blog.

Let me start with the good part: when I managed a team of customer success managers in San Francisco, we were really successful. We worked together seamlessly.

We met often to talk about long-term strategy and problems that were coming up, we chatted over lunch about how things were going, and when someone had a question, they came and knocked on my door.

So when I moved into managing a distributed team of CSMs, I applied the same communication strategy: always be available. It didn’t matter that my coworkers were in Tokyo and London instead of down the hall—I would be the same resource I was before.

Now for the bad part: it didn’t work. Simply put, “always be available” isn’t a system.

It took some time to hammer out, but I learned that remote teams need to be much more systematic, document everything, and communicate constantly. Our international team eventually ramped up to become one of the most productive teams I’ve ever worked with, time differences aside. Along the way, I learned that remote teams can actually be more efficient than co-located ones, as long as they adhere to these processes.

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How to Sell New Tools To Your Team

In 2013, public schools in Greensboro North Carolina received a shipment of over 15,000 iPads as part of an initiative to bring technology into the classroom. Now, those very same iPads are collecting dust because teachers either refused or didn’t know how to incorporate them in their workday.

New tools, however shiny, don’t automatically make a difference to your team. It’s up to managers to get the ball rolling.

As a manager, you might be really certain that a new tool will make a huge difference. That new CRM is going to make finding information so much easier. That communication tool is going to make everyone so much more productive. And that new email provider is going to make your data so much more secure.

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But new tools don’t make any difference at all if your team doesn’t get on board. It’s a really common phenomenon: you bring in new tools, but everyone is so stuck in their ways that they’re not willing to budge when it comes to changing how they do things. Even though you’re convinced it could help them.

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To Be More Productive, Work Less

Guest Post by Daniel Tay, Piktochart

Daniel is a Content Strategist at Piktochart, where he writes regularly about creativity, design, and storytelling. His motto in life: Always be improving, always be loving. Check out his latest articles over at the Piktochart blog.

Back in the 1800s, American author Herman Melville was facing a problem while writing his to-be masterpiece, Moby Dick. Like many famous creative people who would come after him, he struggled against mankind’s greatest nemesis – procrastination – and even had to resort to chaining himself to his desk to be productive.

That particular story turned out pretty well. Moby Dick went on to become one of the greatest literary works of all time. Sitting at our desks mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, though, it’s hard to imagine that we could ever overcome the Instant Gratification Monkey, and get to work on the ever-increasing mounds of assignments and projects ahead of us.

Even if we did chain ourselves to our desks and get started, distractions continually attempt to pry and lure us away. And unlike Melville, we live in an age of perpetual distractions which are easily accessible at the swipe of a finger. Stanford sociologist Clifford Nass says that we are “suckers for irrelevancy.”

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Each time we get distracted, we mess up our flow – defined as an “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.” Not being in the flow is naturally very, very bad for doing actual productive work.

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