Top tips for effective stand-ups

Top tips for effective stand-ups

One of the most common problems I come across as an Agile Coach and Trainer, is ineffective stand-ups.

They can very easily become a daily drudgery meeting where people just answer those three questions, almost without thinking…

I did this yesterday..

I’m doing this today..

No blockers.. (or) The same blockers as yesterday..

Another common problem is that they take a lot longer than 15 minutes.

So here’s my top tips:

  1. The intent of a stand-up is NOT to answer those three questions!!! The intent of the stand-up is for the team to share with one another their progress towards the sprint goal and to shout up if they’re not on track to meet the sprint goal.  This implies that the team has a sprint goal that the team has agreed to by virtue of agreeing a set of work during sprint planning.  So tip number one, is for Product Owners to define clear sprint goals and for teams to discuss their progress against the sprint goal in stand-ups.
  2. Make the people who tend towards facilitating or running stand-ups be the last people to speak (if they need to speak at all) – typically that’s delivery managers / scrum masters and maybe product owners / managers.  The people who are best placed, in fact the only people who really know that state of progress are the people that are building the product increment, so you want to make sure that they are the people that are providing updates during sprint planning.
  3. Walking the wall (or perhaps Talking the wall).  An alternative approach is to run through the cards on the team sprint board or kanban board.  Cards that are Done might be worth acknowledging, but you probably want to know more about work that is in-progress (especially if it’s taking longer than planned), and work yet to be started that perhaps should have already started.  If you’re going to take this approach, beware some adverse behaviours.  I’ve come across team who run their stand-ups in this way and team members were only allowed to speak about their cards on the wall, and no-one could talk about anything else.  While this might seem a sensible rule to put in place, I’d rather much know about something that someone is working on that I wasn’t aware of, i.e. where there was no card, that something that I was aware of – what’s so important that that person feels to work on something that wasn’t agreed earlier?
  4. Don’t worry about having to keep to 15 minutes.  This is something which new teams struggle with.  Just time how long it takes the team to do a stand-up and the next day just try to beat your last time.  You’ll soon be down to 15 minutes or less.

If you’ve got any other tips, I’d love to hear them.  I hope these help.

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