Recently one of my colleagues asked why I use #standup instead of #scrum in our chat room-based standups. This led to an interesting discussion. It turns out that I was subconsciously refusing to perpetuate a common misunderstanding. My colleague now uses #update instead of #scrum (he still refuses to use #standup because he’s usually sitting as he types it).

A lot of people call the daily standup meeting a scrum. This seems perfectly harmless until you realize that some of these people think they’re actually doing Scrum. If you think Scrum is something you do for an hour or so after you show up to work but before any real work gets done then you don’t understand Scrum. You’re also doing your standups wrong. And yes, I have seen standups that routinely take an hour.

What’s the difference? Scrum is a popular Agile framework that prescribes a set of roles, meetings, and artifacts (in the parlance). The daily standup is just one of the Scrum meetings. It’s probably the most popular one, showing up frequently in other methodologies and roll-your-own implementations of Agile.

I’ve seen environments where everyone thought they were doing Agile well because they were “doing scrums” every day. And I’ve seen environments where many thought they were doing Agile well because they were making everything up as they went along, apparently unaware that formal Agile frameworks exist that would have provided them a huge head start.

My favorite situation is when we get to work on small, incredibly productive teams where it makes perfect sense to do Hipchat standups and regular retrospectives, mixing in other elements of Scrum in a more relaxed fashion than Scrum dictates. That is frequently the case at Coshx Labs because we get to start many projects from scratch. You don’t need an entire Scrum team, let alone 10 of them, to start a project from scratch. Thus, you don’t need a framework as formal as Scrum either.

But it’s important to me that we understand what we’re doing, what we’re not doing, and at what time it might be appropriate to make a change. Otherwise we risk failing to scale well as a team when needed.

For those reasons, I’ll continue to use #standup in our chat-based standups. Yes, I will do that even if I’m not typing it from my standing desk!