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The Daily Stand Up

Posted by Tue, 23 May 2006 04:57:00 GMT

12 comments Latest by Scott Berkun Tue, 22 Aug 2006 03:17:19 GMT

I’ll admit it. I’ve never read a book that outlines that SCRUM process in detail but do have a copy of The Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun. In chapter ten, Berkun points out the purpose of having meetings as well as the annoyances that surround them. Over the past six months, we have toyed around with a few different approaches to holding meetings. There was a short period of time where we really weren’t sure what the best way to get company-wide information to everyone without boring them to death once a month or week.

A few months ago we tried something totally crazy… daily meetings! It caught on rather well.

There is one rule though, nobody can sit down. :-)

We hold a meeting every day at the same time and do not make any exceptions. Well, I will admit that we’ve missed two or three in the past several months but overall, we’re very good at keeping to the schedule.

So, how does this process work?

Each morning, I spend about 15 minutes preparing for a 10 minute meeting… which also is how I build my list for the day. This list appears on an index card as I keep it with me throughout the whole day. I also keep the previous and next days card with me so that I can make sure that things that didn’t get done yesterday get done today or tomorrow. Some of these tasks end up on BaseCamp or just get checked off as I complete the task.

Each morning at 9:15 AM PST (now you know where we are when we aren’t working or on IRC), we meet in our conference room and stand in something that looks similar to a circle. I wait until everybody finds their way into the conference room and then say, “Good morning!” I then do go over the following things (and use my index cards to keep me on topic)...

  • What did I do yesterday (or Friday/weekend)?
  • What will I do today?

Then the person who decided to stand next to me follows and we do this around the room… I think the order this morning was:

  • Robby
  • Jeremy
  • Brian
  • Jason
  • David
  • Allison

This is a good time to also bring up any thing that might be useful for everyone to hear… such as, “we got a new development contract signed yesterday!” or “client x will be on-site at 1:30 PM.” Along with this, we’re able to ask questions about other peoples work and act as a sanity check. Why the stand up? Nobody likes to just stand around for too long… when you stand up you avoid getting too comfortable and people are more likely to stay on topic and focused.

The meetings typically last 10-15 minutes and if you’re not doing something like this with your team… how do you cope on a daily basis?

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  1. Avatar
    brasten Tue, 23 May 2006 05:33:21 GMT

    Scrum meetings are essential, IMO, to keeping a team running smoothly. One question I typically ask at scrum meatings: Are there any blocks preventing me from accomplishing my tasks? A lot of times the answer is no, but it encourages team members to bring up potential roadblocks earlier than they otherwise might.

    “Agile & Iterative Development” by Craig Larman does a good job of detailing and contrasting the various agile methods, including SCRUM, XP, RUP, yada yada…

  2. Avatar
    brasten Tue, 23 May 2006 05:34:29 GMT

    scrum meatings? That’s a fun typo. :)

  3. Avatar
    rhubarb Tue, 23 May 2006 10:01:57 GMT

    minor typo Robbie, but it detracts a bit from the impact: “One rule: nobody can stand up!” should be ”... sit down!”, no?

  4. Avatar
    Florian Weber Tue, 23 May 2006 10:11:54 GMT

    Everybody standing up makes meetings go faster and more focus, imho.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/dominic/103216258/

  5. Avatar
    Florian Weber Tue, 23 May 2006 10:12:25 GMT
  6. Avatar
    Robby Russell Tue, 23 May 2006 13:13:03 GMT Recommend me on Working with Rails

    Wow… I totally made a typo…. fixed! :-)

  7. Avatar
    Aslak Hellesoy Tue, 23 May 2006 16:33:45 GMT

    Some other stand-up practices I have found useful:

    Every team members say what obstacles they are facing, if any. This allows for better transparency of problems that need to be dealt with, which can impact the overall schedule.

    Use a token – a rubber ball or something – for each person giving status. Only the person holding the token is allowed to talk. This avoids long-winded discussions. If other people want to provide feedback, the token holder may allow it, but should often say “let’s discuss this in detail after the standup”. The purpose of the standup is communication, not problem solving.

    When a speaker is done, throw the token to a random person instead of just handing it to the left or right. This forces everyone to stay more alert, as noone knows who’s next.

  8. Avatar
    Kevin Rutherford Tue, 23 May 2006 20:19:21 GMT

    Cool. And by “inventing” the idea yourselves, I guess you have much greater buy-in too? For some tips on running daily stand-ups, see http://silkandspinach.net/blog/2005/11/daily_standup_m_1.html and similar.

  9. Avatar
    Olivier Ansaldi Tue, 23 May 2006 21:56:29 GMT

    Hi Robby, stand-up meetings are also a core to extreme programming. I initiated the practice in the previous company I worked for. It was a resounding success. Everybody loved it, from developers to top-level managers. I think stand-up meetings should be used, no matter what methodology is chosen, even in non-agile ones. They are such a low-hanging fruit. Great blog, keep up the good work!

  10. Avatar
    Doug Mon, 29 May 2006 16:00:50 GMT

    I hate meetings, why on Earth would you punish your employees on a daily basis?

  11. Avatar
    Robby Russell Mon, 29 May 2006 16:25:52 GMT Recommend me on Working with Rails

    Thank you all for your comments and feedback! I’ve posted a follow up to this post here.

  12. Avatar
    Scott Berkun Tue, 22 Aug 2006 03:17:19 GMT

    Nice post – I like Aslak’s token thing, however usually you just need someone in charge to tell people when to take a convo outside of the meeting. If you can run the first stand-up meeting right, people get the idea fast and self-correct. But doing that first one on a team used to 2 hour torture sessions can be tough..