Outstanding Standups

The daily standup meeting is one of the key agile practices. For teams that are beginning their agile transformation, this is an easy ritual to adopt.  For mature agile teams, it is an indispensable part of the day.

The daily standup usually goes something like this:

  1. The team gathers in the team room.
  2. Each team member answers three questions:
  • What did I accomplish since the last standup?
  • What will I accomplish by the next standup?
  • What things are hindering progress?

Daily Standup Ground Rules

  1. Everyone on the team must attend every day.  This includes the developers, QA people, the ScrumMaster, and Product Owner.
  2. Other stakeholders can attend but should not interrupt with questions or comments. Notice the absence of the “chickens and pigs” reference – that has been removed from the Scrum guide .
  3. It happens at the same time every day.
  4. Lasts for a maximum of 15 minutes – period.

Making it work

  1. Gathering around the task/Scrum/Kanban board helps to focus on accomplishments and work remaining for stories that are either in flight or coming up next.
  2. It is tempting to dive into solving issues or talk through requirements during the standup.  The ScrumMaster’s job is to remind the team that these discussions need to be taken off-line, ideally right after standup concludes. These types of discussions may indicate that the developers and Product Owners are not spending enough time together outside of the standup meeting.
  3. Since the Product Owner is a member of the team, they can be given some leeway to interject with questions, but it is important to recognize quickly if it is a discussion that needs to be taken off-line.
  4. Some teams fall into a rut where team members provide updates that are more of a “where am I with what I am working on” update rather than what has been accomplished and what will be accomplished.  This is gets to the crux of what the standup is really all about: team members re-committing to each other on a daily basis about what they will accomplish towards meeting the team’s commitments.
  5. Everyone actually stands up for the meeting.  This helps to keep it short.
  6. Rule of thumb: if people start leaning against the wall, then the meeting is getting off-track or running too long.
  7. If the standup becomes a free-for-all, use a token (e.g. a ball) that the speaker holds. When he/she has completed the 3 questions, they pass it to another random team member who has not had their turn.  Passing the ball randomly to the next speaker helps keep people tuned in rather than sequentially going around in a circle.
  8. New impediments that are identified in the standup should be added to the team’s impediments board immediately.

Reflections

  • The daily standup is an opportunity for team members to recommit to each other.
  • Everyone should attend, and the meeting should last a maximum of 15 minutes.
  • The discussions should remain focused on the three questions.

2 thoughts on “Outstanding Standups

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