You actually have to “stand-up” in a stand-up meeting

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The daily stand-up meeting is one of the most famous and important ideas behind Scrum, since this is the mechanism that allows structured communications and work alignments between team members.  It has become such an infamous notion that I ran across an article on the Wall Street Journal talking about this.  The title of the article is “No More Angling for the Best Seat; More Meetings Are Stand-Up Jobs” and it describes how various software firms around the US are utilizing the daily stand-up meeting:

 
The current wave of stand-up meeting is being fueled by the growing use of "Agile," an approach to software development, crystallized in a manifesto published by 17 software professionals in 2001. The method calls for compressing development projects into short pieces. It also involves daily stand-up meetings where participants are supposed to quickly update their peers with three things: What they have done since yesterday's meeting; what they are doing today; and any obstacles that stand in the way of getting work done.
 
If employees are late to this meeting, often called a "daily scrum," they sometimes must sing a song like "I'm a Little Teapot," do a lap around the office building or pay a small fine, says Mike Cohn, president of Mountain Goat Software, Lafayette, Colo., an Agile consultant and trainer. If someone is rambling on for too long, an employee may hold up a rubber rat indicating it is time to move on. Companies make exceptions to their no-sitting rules if a worker is sick, injured or pregnant—but usually not for workers outside the office telecommuting on Skype...
 
As Agile has become more widely adopted, stand-ups have spread along with it. VersionOne, which makes Agile-development software, polled 6,042 tech employees around the world in a 2011 survey and found that 78% held daily stand-up meetings.
 
I think one of the most important aspect of the daily stand-up meetings are that people are actually physically standing up during meetings and are in one room!
 
 
I know it sounds so obvious, but I’ve been part of supposedly Agile/Scrum daily stand-up meetings where people were seated being distracted by their laptops, smart phones, etc. while the rest of the people were dailed into a conference call bridge.  This made for sub-optimal meetings and definitely not what is in the spirit of Scrum’s daily stand-up meetings.
 
Some other things to keep in mind:
  • A stand-up meeting is not a status meeting, but rather actionable items based on what was done, what needs to be done, and what is (possibly) getting in the way.  Your job as Scrum Master is to ensure it stays in this direction and that you commit to removing the impediments.
  • Don’t allow teams to stray into technical minutiae as that will eat up time and distract or bore other team members.  Park those items for later follow ups and make sure only the technical SMEs are involved
  • Make sure the Product Owner is there to answer any questions regarding requirements and backlog items
  • As Scrum Master, keep a list of impediments that is prioritized on criticality and be able to speak to the status of them at any time
  • Try to have the meetings at the same time and ensure that all team members remain till the end of the meeting.
  • If the ScrumMaster and/or the Product Owner cannot attend, keep the meeting anyway to maintain communication, consistency and discipline (again, just because Agile is flexible does not mean it is not disciplined!)
Some guidelines to think about to make stand-up meetings as efficient AND effective as possible, since this is the vehicle that will set the tone for the entire Sprint and help to ensure the team understands how things are progressing and are on the right track for success.
Some guidelines to think about to make stand-up meetings as efficient AND effective as possible, since this is the vehicle that will set the tone for the entire Sprint and help to ensure the team understands how things are progressing and are on the right track for success.The daily stand-up meeting is one of the most famous and important ideas behind Scrum, since this is the mechanism that allows structured communications and work alignments between team members.  It has become such an infamous notion that I ran across an article on the Wall Street Journal talking about this.  The title of the article is “No More Angling for the Best Seat; More Meetings Are Stand-Up Jobs” and it describes how various software firms around the US are utilizing the daily stand-up meeting:
 
The current wave of stand-up meeting is being fueled by the growing use of "Agile," an approach to software development, crystallized in a manifesto published by 17 software professionals in 2001. The method calls for compressing development projects into short pieces. It also involves daily stand-up meetings where participants are supposed to quickly update their peers with three things: What they have done since yesterday's meeting; what they are doing today; and any obstacles that stand in the way of getting work done.
 
If employees are late to this meeting, often called a "daily scrum," they sometimes must sing a song like "I'm a Little Teapot," do a lap around the office building or pay a small fine, says Mike Cohn, president of Mountain Goat Software, Lafayette, Colo., an Agile consultant and trainer. If someone is rambling on for too long, an employee may hold up a rubber rat indicating it is time to move on. Companies make exceptions to their no-sitting rules if a worker is sick, injured or pregnant—but usually not for workers outside the office telecommuting on Skype...
 
As Agile has become more widely adopted, stand-ups have spread along with it. VersionOne, which makes Agile-development software, polled 6,042 tech employees around the world in a 2011 survey and found that 78% held daily stand-up meetings.
 
I think one of the most important aspect of the daily stand-up meetings are that people are actually physically standing up during meetings and are in one room!
 
[insert photo]
 
I know it sounds so obvious, but I’ve been part of supposedly Agile/Scrum daily stand-up meetings where people were seated being distracted by their laptops, smart phones, etc. while the rest of the people were dailed into a conference call bridge.  This made for sub-optimal meetings and definitely not what is in the spirit of Scrum’s daily stand-up meetings.
 
Some other things to keep in mind:
 
A stand-up meeting is not a status meeting, but rather actionable items based on what was done, what needs to be done, and what is (possibly) getting in the way.  Your job as Scrum Master is to ensure it stays in this direction and that you commit to removing the impediments.
Don’t allow teams to stray into technical minutiae as that will eat up time and distract or bore other team members.  Park those items for later follow ups and make sure only the technical SMEs are involved
Make sure the Product Owner is there to answer any questions regarding requirements and backlog items
As Scrum Master, keep a list of impediments that is prioritized on criticality and be able to speak to the status of them at any time
Try to have the meetings at the same time and ensure that all team members remain till the end of the meeting.
If the ScrumMaster and/or the Product Owner cannot attend, keep the meeting anyway to maintain communication, consistency and discipline (again, just because Agile is flexible does not mean it is not disciplined!)
 
Some guidelines to think about to make stand-up meetings as efficient AND effective as possible, since this is the vehicle that will set the tone for the entire Sprint and help to ensure the team understands how things are progressing and are on the right track for success.
Posted on: June 28, 2012 10:46 PM | Permalink

Comments (3)

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Great points Don. I have been a firm believer in Daily Stand Ups since I was first introduced to them in 1998. I have also successfully employed them in several of my last employers. It''s different, its focused, and its very effective.



This one of the most powerful (yet often overlooked becuase of its simplicity) tools in the project managers toolkit. Used correctly - this technique can propel a team into productivity mode. If a PM is lax in its application (sitting down, distracted by their devices, bagels on Friday, etc.) this technique can quickly lose its potentcy.





If anyone is wondering who is in the picture above, the company is called Atomic Object out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. While in the area, speaking at a conference last year, I stopped in for the day to see how they operated. What you're seeing in the photo is the entire company (at that time). I know they've since opened another office in Detroit. They are a forward thinking company and very "agile".

Thanks for sharing

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