How We Improved Our Standups

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Posted by Jen Quraishi

6 April 2015

Stand-ups (aka Daily Scrum, or morning roll-call) should be short, relevant, and ideally energizing. It’s a time for everyone to connect about the day’s goals and blockers. This is especially essential for remote team members, who might otherwise feel disconnected. However, there are many ways stand-ups can go wrong.

About a month ago, our stand-ups had reached a new low. We did all stand for the meeting, but up to half the team would show up late, which was both distracting and inefficient. And though we’d instigated a “fun fact” to open the meeting, usually these facts were dark and depressing. Someone would offer the anniversary of some massacre in Europe, or a new insight into Colony Collapse Disorder. And once the “fun” fact was over, it was… quiet. And awkward. No one wanted to be the first to give their updates, so we’d all just look at each other.

awkward

The unproductivity displeased our managing director.

displeased

But then! A stand-up leader was appointed. He was tasked with moving things along and keeping it short and not-awkward and also un-depressing. So he has a ready stash of upbeat fun facts, and motivates everyone gives their updates quickly and thoroughly. And if they don’t offer their update, they are asked, directly and quickly.

leader

After an update is given, we update our team’s Mingle board on a touch-screen TV to reflect it. We also use our standups to showcase work in progress, and announce housekeeping things like people being out-of-office the next day.

So now our stand-up is much shorter, effective, and we’re all there on time. It’s not magic, but sometimes it feels like it.

hooray

Photos: Getty Images/iStock and DollarPhotoClub


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