What makes a successful standup?

I saw this cross my LinkedIn and figured I'd pitch it out to the masses.

Your team needs to stay synced. What's your idea of the perfect standup?

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DISCUSSION (10)
  • Takes less than 10 minutes
  • Everyone's clear what has been done since the last standup
  • Everyone's clear what they have to do next
  • Impediments, if any, are identified and raised

Probably last two are most important to me.

My perfect standup would be the only second best alternative to a not needing a meeting at all.

The participants should strictly limited to the people who really work so closely together that they indeed need to stay synced. What I have witnessed is that it is more often all people who happen to report to the same manager. Often the contributions would be better part of an email, a wiki entry or a one-on-one conversation. The standup should be short and timeboxed (taking the "standup" part literally might help with that) and all discussions of solutions should be postponed to after the standup and to achieve that all participants need to be both prepared and disciplined. And knowledge transfer is in my opinion out of scope of a (daily) standup meeting.

One strategy I've used in the past is a "conch". For those that haven't seen or read "Lord of the Flies", the conch is an object that is passed around and only the person holding it can speak.

Enforced, it speeds things up because the person speaking in the standup can't be bombarded with questions, extending the standup to a point of misery.

The conch can be anything, really. It can be a stress ball or better yet, a 10 lb. weight. The longer you hold it, the heavier it gets!

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There is a lot of information about your team's work status directly in the issue tracker, so just discussing what you did yesterday and are going to be doing today is a waste of time.

Likewise, an issue blocking only one member of the team does not need to be discussed with the team. Take that conversation offline after scrum with that individual.

The key to successful standup meetings is to not treat them like a status check, but a chance to quickly get iterative feedback from the whole team, and make sure everyone is tracking with the overall goal and its rapidly evolving requirements.

Anything highly important or controversial needs its own meeting scheduled. But scrum is a great way to determine whether your team thinks that meeting is necessary.

Tell how you are working towards the sprint goal and if there are impediments.
In reality we often don't have a sprint goal and it's just a status meeting. A status meeting might have value (years ago we didn't have any and I wondered what some team members were working on) but scrum is a team effort. Often the daily is used by the technical project lead to discuss other things.

Update: team size matters. 3-7 members. We started with 14 or so, stand ups needed much patience. We divided one team in two, stand ups are much more enjoyable!

In collocated teams, stand-ups should not be as necessary for social interaction and brief as work should be visible on a physical or digital board.

In distributed teams, having a daily meeting where you see everyone's face is powerful. Check out Jurgen Appelo's views on this topic.

“Daily Meetings with Remote Teams (Stand-ups Don’t Work, But Daily Cafes Do)” @jurgenappelo blog.agilityscales.com/daily-meeti...

At my company, which is entirely remote, participants typically show up a few minutes early to our video meetings (including 9am standup) so we can talk about what's going on personally (sometimes politics) with each other. This is important, as a majority of our communication is through Slack.

I hate stand-ups! It breaks for remote teams and is problematic in different time zones.

Modern teams should be relying more on their tools and processes to be able to effectively communicate status. When I manage teams, I rely heavily on bug/project tracking software to efficiently communicate where everyone is at. In addition, I employ processes the team is autonomous and each individual is responsible for an area that they drive and manage.

My teams meet as needed and as much as needed. People can always schedule meetings to coordinate all this.

It’s a status update on things people care about.

If it’s just a “what I’m up to” check in, it’s not as useful as it could be.

Short, to the point, and informative enough I know what everyone is working on and where they are.

Don't do it. Just communicate with each other as and when is necessary. I always found stand-ups to be a complete waste of time in jobs where we did them

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Jonathan Irvin
I'm a full-stack cloud-minded engineer who enjoys devops and clean code.
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