Its after lunch and I’ve just finished my orientation with HR and its time to get to work. I meet the guys i’ll be spending my foreseeable future with and it goes awkwardly like these things always do. I sit down at my seat, open up my laptop and start reading through all the documents I’m supposed to start with.
“Hey it’s time for stand up”
“Time for what now?” I muttered as I looked up from my laptop. Part happy that someone is talking to me and part confused at whats going on I awkwardly smile and start repeating my question but before I can do that Kyle starts to give me the universal hurry up signal so I get up from my seat and start following Kyle.
“Do you know what stand up is?” Kyle asked while we were walking to a meeting room. “Is that like a daily scrum?” I sheepishly asked, he smiled and nodded. Good I thought, at least that’s one thing I know. I’ve been to these things before. Its that daily thing where we share status with a manager and answer those three bloody questions. I wonder why he actually looks excited to go to this..
Kyle and I walk into the room and see a few people standing in a circle. They’re all smiling, talking about this new mobile game they all seem to be playing. From the back of the room I see Dennis who appears to be their Scrum master holding what looks to be a stuffed animal. Before I could say anything he started talking.
“Hey you’re here! We normally have penalties for people coming into stand-up late but its your first day so you get a pass. I know you’re not working on anything yet so for now just watch and in a few days when you’re ready you can join in.”
“Fair enough” I said as I stood behind the circle of people. What happened next was nothing like I’ve seen before. It started off with Kyle taking the stuffed animal and then finding a place in the circle with the rest of the team. He started to say a few things about this feature he’s close to finishing and asks if anyone can review it. I hear someone answer yes and then Kyle throws the stuffed toy towards Yasmin. She catches it and starts talking about some graphics she’s working on and asks Kyle about the exact size and how the graphics should animate on the site. They talk about it for a minute or two and she lobs the stuffed toy in Kara’s direction. Kara who was still looking at Kyle for whatever reason gets hit in the face with the toy and fails to catch it. She picks it up from the floor as the whole team starts cheering and clapping.
“Kara gets a penalty!” Dennis says. Kara shakes her head and sighs. She quickly describes a bug she found and how the graphics look a bit blurry. “Urgh! Must be the compression. I tried getting the file size as low as I could. I’ll go check it out later” Yasmin answers while Kara nods in agreement. This goes on until everyone has had a turn and when they were done they throw the stuffed toy back to Dennis.
“We all good for this iteration guys?”
I hear about 3 different variations of “yeah” and assume everyone said yes. Dennis then smiles at Kara and starts talking.
“Today’s penalty question is..
If you could become a pro-wrestler. What would be your name and why?”
Kara starts laughing.
“What the hell Dennis! I haven’t watched wrestling in years. Uhh I guess I’ll call myself Kara…te! cause I’ll be karate chopping everyone!” Everyone starts to laugh.
“Okay guys! Stand up took 12 minutes. Thanks I’ll see you tomorrow!” Dennis says out loud as everyone starts to walk outside the room.
I stand there for a minute looking at Dennis. Still a bit lost and confused about what just happened at their stand up I look to him and say
“Hey this isn’t anything like any stand up I’ve been to before. What just happened?!”
“Oh its just our way of doing stand ups.”
“But what about the three questions and all that? Who are they reporting to?”
“Yeah it could be a lot to take in. They don’t report to anyone except each other or more of they’re just catching up about whats been going on in the project.”
Dennis paused for a bit then continued.
“And the three questions? Man those three questions don’t get me started. We feel like it wasn’t enough for us. We wanted people to talk about stuff they need from each other or how could someone else help them out and not just what they were doing. So instead of that we just ask each other what they did to help the project. That way people don’t feel like they have to tell us about meetings they went to and stuff like that.”
I took it in for a while and asked
“ So what do you call this methodology?”
Dennis furrowed his brow a bit, I guess I asked him something he hasn’t had to think about before.
“Well we don’t do Scrum that’s for sure. I guess we just do whatever makes sense for us.. so I guess you can kinda call it agile from scratch.” Dennis answered.
Well that wasn’t what I was expecting, its not like I can google “agile from scratch” and get up to speed with what these guys are doing. Looks like they’re having fun though so I guess it isn’t so bad.
I start walking out of the room to go back to my laptop and get on with my day. Man this is going to be interesting.