Running Stand-ups Ain't Easy

This is part of of what's becoming a "PM'ing Ain't Easy" series. You can find the first issue in the series here.

I've recently experienced the rare luxury recently of participating in, rather than leading weekly stand-ups. It's the first time I've been a participant, rather than leader, in a long time

This experience provides me with a fresh perspective. It reminds me that one reason PM'ing ain't easy is because running stand-ups ain't easy.

If you've run stand-ups you'll know what I mean.

In truth, nobody really wants to have stand-ups. This means nobody's super-enthusiastic about attending when they do. Most people are probably multi-tasking during the stand-up, listening with half an ear for their turn to come around.

The PM has to coax updates out of these reluctant team members. This is hard, because the PM's essentially asking people to self-report on their progress. It forces a sometimes uncomfortable self-introspection process.

Even harder is having to ask for updates on specific items. This often evokes uncomfortable answers about why something's not done yet. Even when done with the best intentions, it's hard for high performing team members to not view these questions as uncomfortable, for example, if the work in question isn't done yet.

Harder than that is having to explore why certain tasks are stuck. Again, it's hard for these questions to not put people on the defensive. Yet it's the PM's job to uncover these blockers and figure out how to resolve them.

All these difficulties get magnified for crypto projects, as there's usually an inherent skepticism about the need for PMs in the first place. Asking hard questions in the midst of mild to not so mild resentment builds more resentment.

Adding to the difficulty is that most crypto projects don't yet have a shipping mindset. So the "it will get done when it gets done" mindset prevails.

Every project gets stuck on a regular basis. Yet without someone to ask the hard questions, stuck projects stay stuck. Projects don't ship and the power of decentralization goes unrealized.

So to all you PMs out there doing the hard work of running these stand-ups, keep it up. While hard an unappreciated, it's necessary work. Try and maintain a light touch and sense of humor along the way.

And remember, even though it seems like you may be alone when you ask a question during a stand-up and face that uneasy silence in return, you're not alone in the struggle 😊

P.S. - This was first published in my Blockchain PM newsletter here. Subscribe for free to receive posts like this and PM jobs listings about once a week.