Daily Stand Up: The Art of Standing Up and Talking

What is the Daily Stand Up?

This is a daily meeting (usually in the morning), which allows the team to remain updated on progress and identify roadblocks.

  • What are you going to work on today?
  • What is blocking you from completing any tasks?

The Questions

What Did You Do Yesterday?

The question is obvious; it’s intended for the person to update everyone on their progress on the task they are working on. It’s a way for the Team Lead and the rest of the team to follow progress without having to chase. If the person didn’t get anything done then it obviously indicates there is a problem, or if it’s not going as fast as thought maybe an issue with the estimate and initial workload scoped.

What Are You Going To Do Today?

For this, now each team member will discuss, in front of the rest of the team on their plans for that day. This is a good way to ensure each person is responsible for what they are doing, and that they are accountable if things are not going well. If the person has nothing to do, it’s good that you had the meeting at the beginning of the day and caught this problem early. If you are using a Scrum Board there is probably a task they can take (with the next priority) or help someone else out.

What Are Your Blocking Points?

This is the final point to identify any impediments or bottlenecks. What is preventing productivity? Are there any new issues the team need to know about? These could be from hardware issues (someone in the team is having issues with their PC), or maybe someone needs to take emergency leave? There could be a dependency on another team or person? The Scrum Master is responsible for taking note on these and then removing them for the team.

Common Problems with the Daily Stand Up

  • Team members give their answers to the scrum master, or agile coach, or a member of the team, instead of to the team.
  • Meetings take too long.
  • The team starts solving a blocking issue that was raised, completely derailing the daily stand-up.
  • Some members give answers that are too detailed, and they take up too much time with their answers.
  • Team members fail to show up to the meeting.
  • Some team members take the daily stand-up as a competition to overstate their accomplishments.
  • The team answers the questions succinctly, without transferring anything meaningful to other members of the team.
  • Meeting participants who are not team members take over the meeting.
  • Members identify the same impediments day after day, and they are never resolved.

Tips for the Daily Stand Up

Starting the Meeting

Always start them on time. Nothing is worse than waiting around for someone or postponing the meeting. If the stand-up starts at 9:00am, start it at 9:00am, every day without fail — even if not everyone is there or ready. When they start to miss information or updates you will find they will start to arrive on time! It’s an important meeting, and everyone should understand its importance.

Engagement

Do it standing, sitting takes out some of the energy — it’s obvious but it’s called the daily stand up for a reason.

  • How you are going to crush it today?
  • How you are going to blast through any obstacles unfortunate enough to be standing in your way?

Priorities

Focus on the baton, not the runners

Goals

Use the acronym GIFTS for the goals of your daily stand up, standing for:

  • To help start the day well
  • To support improvement
  • To reinforce focus on the right things
  • To reinforce the sense of team
  • To communicate what is going on

Attendees

It’s ok for the product owner or stakeholders to attend, but they must be observers only. It’s actually good if they are there if a team member needs a quick clarification, but again — any specific discussions should be taken offline. The whole team probably doesn’t need to go into too much detail about the clarifications you need on some of the UI — you have tomorrow’s meeting to update the team on the general progress.

Meeting Length

Keep it short. It’s short for a reason. The longer the meeting the less engaged people become. Everyone should understand the importance of the meeting. If it is more than 15 minutes, then you are doing something else rather than providing a simple update on progress. Take anything else off-line. You can use the timer on your phone to ensure everyone speaks within the permitted time.

Ending the Meeting

Mark the end of the meeting, maybe a phrase (“Thanks everyone, have a good day”) or a question (“Anyone have anything extra to add?”). The meeting should end on a high note and not trail off or people walking away when the meeting hasn’t finished. Imagine in American Football/Basketball where they all should ‘Go Team’ after the huddle:

Review your Meetings

Evaluate and review your stand-ups, maybe in the retrospective. If they do not work, discuss and improve them! The stand-up should be a meeting of importance and not just a routine.

Summary

Here is a brief summary of things to avoid during the stand-up:

  • Not at the same place or time
  • Teams joining late
  • Product owners can’t join
  • Reporting to the leader / Scrum Master
  • Not remembering what you did (preparation)
  • Storytelling
  • Not discussing impediments until the last minute
  • Missing important updates
  • Allowing distractions (tea, phone calls, speaking to a passer-by)
  • Starting a side discussion
  • Problem solving
  • Not listening to other team members
  • Not limiting to 15 minute
  • Not using a physical board

About the Author

Ashley-Christian Hardy
theproducthub.io

Product leader. A strong advocate in innovation, experimentation and building great products with the use of qualitative and quantitative research.

Product leader. A strong advocate in innovation, experimentation and building great products with the use of qualitative and quantitative research.