Run well, a or is a great pulse check, builder and motivator for a project; run badly, it’s an expensive waste of everyone’s time. An effective is a chance to review , get feedback, measure productivity, and adapt together as a , to keep a project moving in the right direction. Leading a standup or isn’t difficult – but leading them well is a bit trickier. As project managers or masters, we want to lead our project teams well and our projects to succeed, so here’s how to run a more effective .
Turning A Daily Stand-Off Into A Scrummier Stand-Up
The (or ) is one of the most recognized components of the and the more broadly. However, it’s often the first to plummet over the dreaded SDLC (software development lifecycle) waterfall that the is trying to avoid. What typically starts as 15 minutes, three questions, and a regresses into a that lost control over the rapids, bounced off some rocks, and is now sitting stagnant in the pool beneath the waterfall. How do we avoid this regression and keep the standup moving and clear of the waterfall? Read on my friend.
First, let’s review the properties of a typical agile team daily standup:
- 15 minutes or less
- Answer three questions:
- What did I do yesterday?
- What will I do today?
- What is blocking me from making progress?
- Create a 24-hour plan of action for the Scrum team
- Everyone standing (not required, but encouraged)
Often, these simple properties become too routine, laziness takes over and your goes awry. We forget the targeted outcome and benefits of collaboration, understanding, and planning, and instead become standoffish as members compete for time and attention, or worst of all, stop engaging altogether. Here are five simple tips to make your less of a stand-off.
1. Change The Standup Language
The three questions themselves sound status-like – we’re trying to avoid that! Try changing a few keywords and the intent to communicate obstacles, , and planning toward goals outcomes is easily achieved.
- What did I accomplish yesterday that brought me closer to our sprint goals?
- What will I accomplish today that will bring us closer to our sprint goals?
- What is blocking me from achieving our sprint goals?
This change also eliminates the conversation of “I attended a meeting,” “I ate pizza for lunch,” “I took my dog for a walk (wait, weren’t you at work?!)”
2. Eliminate The Waste
If you’re finding your is taking too long or ends up with too much chit-chat, how about trying two questions instead:
- What does the entire team need to know?
- What do you need help with?
It still achieves the same outcome but eliminates some of the conversation that is not directly related toward achieving our goals. Does the need to know what you ate for lunch? No. Do they need to know what you attended? Maybe. What you need help with? Yes!
3. Take Away The Distractions
This is an easy one. If people are looking out a window, move away or pull a shade. Other teams too loud? Move to a different area. Teams looking at computers and multitasking? Use a physical board. Not listening? Have them close their eyes (the lack of a sense heightens the others).
4. Walk The Board, Not The Team
Many teams use a board to view in process stories. Many teams also run their standup in the same order every day. Yes, we do have to take turns, but instead of organizing the board by the people on the , view each by column on the .
Now teams look at all the items in at once, not just their own. This eliminates the question of “What do I on next?” because they can see what is still in . It keeps focus on the stories that help achieve the goals and can identify when teams are working on out of scope items. To continue to mix up the order, the last person can call on the next (constant vigilance!).
5. Keep It Fresh
The can still get boring (we do it every day!). Keep it fresh by having everyone tell a bad joke, tossing a ball, and bringing in treats on occasion. This also makes it more fun and can build rapport!
These are just a few items to get project managers acting in the moving toward a more effective standup and away from the waterfall trap. When you notice stagnancy, try to freshen up the questions, context or location. Talk about the and stories, not the meetings. Encourage the to together and plan together, not make a stand-off for time and attention. What other things have you done to improve your or ?