A few weeks ago, I wrote about the after-party. After I published that story, I realized there is also the pre-party. Or Pre as my kids call that these days.
Yes, my kids are teenagers these days; hence many of my metaphors come from that part of life. When my kids and their friends will go out to a party, they meet at one of their houses and they have a pre-party. Sometimes they cook and eat together, sometimes they just drink, talk and do whatever teenagers do (and I don’t want to know) And then they go to the real party. When I was young I never did this, yet I understand that this allows them to connect and talk, something that is hard at a party with loud blasting music. Not stupid these teenagers.
X: Nice story Yves, what does this have to do with my team?
Y: Ah, yes X, always direct to the point, very efficient.
X: Thank you, I guess?
Y: When the after-party is the second part of the daily standup, what do you think is the pre-party is?
X: Sounds like something that happens before the standup.
X: What would you do before the standup? is this yet another mandatory agile meeting?
Y: I think every meeting is optional in agile, yet your results will be different.
X: Yeah, just teasing, I know you prefer heads that count over counting heads.
Y: Just like the after-party, the pre-party is also optional.
X: Yet what happens at the pre-party? In the after-party, they discussed things that they figured out during the standup they had to talk about.
Y: In the pre-party, they do exactly the same thing that my kids do at their pre-party. They connect on a personal level.
X: You mean have chit-chat and stuff?
Y: Exact talk about life, the universe, and everything…
X: Isn’t that already happening?
Y: Just like with the after-party I‘m not inventing anything, I‘m just giving things a name.
X: I’m not sure I like the pre-party, I already have the feeling that our standup is too much chit-chat and …
Y: Not efficient enough?
X: I was going to say effective.
Y: I agree that many standups are going in all kinds of directions
X: Glad you agree, and it seems to have become worse since we went remote during the covid lockdown
Y: yes, well partly that is because it’s no longer a standup, people are sitting at their desk
X: Not all people
Y: yeah let’s not go there, saying “not all” has never added anything to a conversation
X: So you want people to stand up again.
Y: it would not hurt, yet the pre-party is another way to help with the focus
X: Now you completely lost me, you said the pre-party is about chit-chat, how can it help with focus?
Y: Can you repeat that sentence?
X: the pre-party is about chit-chat, how can it help with focus? …
Y: and again, yet a little slower focusing on all words…
X: THE … PRE … oh I see
Y: Say more
X: because the chit-chat is part of the pre-party, we remove it from the party eh the daily …
X: But Yves then the standup will take again more time
Y: Not really
X: You lost me again
Y: It’s a PRE party
X: ah, you mean it takes place before the daily
X: yeah but when does it start?
Y: that’s the same as with a pre-party that my kids are having, there is not really a start time.
X: And so the people show up when they want to show up
Y: or if they want to show up…
X: And our stand up starts on time?
Y: That’s the goal.
X: Am I correct to assume that this also means we no longer will need to wait for people who are late to the standup
Y: Well if it’s up to me, a daily always starts at the same time and place, independently of who is present.
X: Even if the scrum master or product owner is not yet present?
Y: Especially if one of them is not present. A daily is from the team for the team, it has never been a meeting for SM or PO, yet that’s a different discussion… Do you still have another question?
X: No, or wait maybe one, in our previous conversation, you talked about the after-party being the second part of the daily, if we do a pre-party, isn’t that the third party?
Y: Ah great question, I leave that one for the agile police, you know the people telling us we are or are not doing agile….
X: Just to be sure, what is the goal of the pre-party
Y: Many people feel that it’s harder to create a team remotely. They want everyone back in the office. I think this is partly because when we are working in the office, we do connect on a personal level automatically. When we are working remote, we have to design our interactions in a way we also have time and place for the moments to connect. The pre-party is one of these moments. By having it as an optional part, it works nicely for people who like this and it does not force the others to be part of conversations where they don’t have energy for …
X: Then I have no more questions, it was fun and I learned again a lot…
Yves: you are welcome…
PS The writing style is both inspired and an hommage to Simon Wardley