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Sep062009

Daily Standup Meetings - Introduction and 5 useful tips

 

A daily standup meeting is one of the easiest practices you can implement with your team. It only takes 10-15 minutes at the beginning of each day, and it increases the amount of communication and synchronization in the team immensely.

The idea is very simple

The whole team (usually no more than 10 people) literally stands up in a sort of circle so everyone can see each other. then the team lead (or the "facilitator" that was chosen for the team) will go one by one and ask each team member three simple questions:

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What are you going to do today?
  3. Is there anything stopping you from getting your work done?

Question #1 is important for several reasons:

  • Everyone hears what happened yesterday and know the current status on that part of the app that member worked on
  • The team lead understands the progress of  the team member and the overall status of the app
  • If the team member didn't get anything really done yesterday, it might mean they are stuck - which is very important to know early as we've seen.

Question #2 also has its uses:

  • The team member stands up in front of their own peers and says they will do something. They will feel more responsibility to make sure those things get accomplished. they are now accountable to the team.
  • If they do not know what to do today, that's also good since you've caught this early. make sure they know what to do. If there is a task board, they can grab the task with the highest priority, for example.
  • Other team members will know what is going on, can offer help or tips (maybe they worked on this just the other day?)

Question #3 is very important to prevent bottlenecks in the team productivity

  • maybe someone's computer is overheating, or has low memory
  • maybe a team member needs to take half a day since some other project called them
  • maybe... you get the idea

it is your job as a team lead to make sure nothing is stopping team members from working on the things with the highest value to the project(s) they are working on. If they are not, find out why and solve it immediately after the meeting.

 

5 useful tips I learned the hard way

  1. Make sure it does not take longer than 15 minutes (that's why standing up is important - people don't feel comfortable ranting on when they stand up so things finish up quickly)
  2. Make sure that technical discussions do not ensue in the middle of the meeting. when one breaks out call it out as a "talk about this later, just the both of you" and ask people to move on
  3. When all else fails, you can tell the person who won't stop talking - "you have  30 seconds to finish your overview" and then move on.
  4. Don't be afraid to stop people in the middle of speaking. The rules must be clear and concise.
  5. Once you have this meeting, try to see what meetings you can now cancelfor the whole team. For example, in our company we have only two meetings a week where the whole dev team needs to be in: daily standup, and once a week a company meeting. besides those they are just at work, working.
« Making Impossible Decisions Without Panicking | Main | 4 ways to discover a stuck team member, and what you can do about it »

Reader Comments (3)

2 more tips:
1) mandatory presence - no excuses (if you really cant come be on the phone or ask someone to fill your place)
1) same place same time - good for making this stick, and in eliminating some of the excuses for not showing.

September 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlior

What about teams split in more than one location?

September 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMarius

@Marius: We have team members who work from home part of the time, and they call in. Videoconferencing is great, if you can pull it off.

If you have two or more people at some other location, they're a separate team, IMO, and they have to be managed as such.

September 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRichard

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