Through my experiences as a trainer and an Agile Coach, I have many times come across teams who try, but no-one has ever explained about stand-ups. Perhaps that is why it is so rare to see a Stand-up done correctly.
This excellent, fast and worry-free type of status update is exceptionally good so long as it is done right. Do it wrong and its a nightmare.
So here are my “Rules of Engagement” for an effective Stand-up.
A Stand-up is not a meeting
- It’s a quick daily status update
- It’s a chance for all to find out what others are working on and to update to others what you are looking at doing
- It is also a chance to find out who is needing help, who you can help, and what discussions will need to be had with whom after the stand-up
There are No discussions in a Stand-up
- This is not the time for questions or discussion
- If something comes up (examples might be a team member needing assistance or a difficulty that needs discussion), then make a note to talk to that person afterwards. Don’t discuss it in the stand-up
Stand-ups are done standing up
- If you are sitting down in a stand-up, it’s a “meeting”
- If you are sitting down, then you are being very inconsiderate to all others in your team
- Studies show that the same outcomes take 34% longer when participants are sitting
- The idea is that stand-ups should take between 5-10 minutes and no more, sometimes less
- Stand – unless you have a physical condition that means you have pain or difficulty standing up.
- If you cannot stand (physical condition), ensure that your team knows and accepts this so they don’t feel that you are being inconsiderate to the team
- If your team’s retro decides that you can all sit in a stand-up, then reconsider that decision
Only team members get to speak
- While anyone can attend, only the team members get to speak – note that for Development teams, this can include testers and others that are doing the work to get stuff to “Done”.
- If someone needs to say something afterwards, he or she should mention this to the leader prior to the stand-up. The leader can then ask people if they wish to stay behind “AFTER” the stand-up as (this person) has something they wish to say
- If there is a company message, then ask the team to stay for a couple of minutes “after the meeting” for the company message
Stand-ups are just three questions
Always answer these questions keeping in mind “What does my team need to know about what I’m doing?”
- What you did yesterday
- What you plan to do today
- Any roadblocks that you might see coming up
Stand-ups should be the same time every day
- This makes it easier for members to attend
- Members can organise their thoughts for their 3 questions prior to the stand-up. Remember, team members are often not articulate and will need time to formulate a valid statement. If the Stand-up is at the same time each day then they can get used to getting their minds in order so that they can clearly articulate their response
It’s OK to have a stand-up on Skype
- It’s OK, even normal, for some members to attend a stand-up on Skype (or whatever tool you are using)
- Those on Skype should be able to see everyone else
Stand-ups are not just for Development Teams
- Stand-ups are not a new idea. They have been standard practice for energetic and focused teams for more than a century. They were having daily standups in World War I
- A Stand-up is an ideal way for different groups to catch up, quickly and regularly without having to hold a meeting
- The origins of the modern daily scrum stand-up comes from the All Blacks Haka
Results of study supporting the above rules…
Military leaders (in WWI) used daily stand-ups to minimize distractions when time-sensitive decisions needed to be made, according to a paper published decades later in The Journal of Applied Psychology. In the 1999 study of 555 undergraduate students, University of Missouri professors set out to determine if the same approach used by soldiers could work for group decision making.
They found that meetings were 34% longer when participants were sitting down. No big surprise there. We’ve all experienced how challenging it is to settle in and get comfortable when standing.
What did surprise researchers was the fact that standing participants came to the same conclusions as those in the sit-down groups. They just got there a lot faster.