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The Daily Stand Up, part 2

Posted by Mon, 29 May 2006 16:11:00 GMT

4 comments Latest by Reagan Wed, 31 May 2006 04:29:40 GMT

In a previous post, I outlined how the PLANET ARGON team handles their communication of day-to-day work with the daily stand-up. Several people posted comments about similar processes and some suggestions were made to keep them from getting too stagnant. I wanted to highlight a few of those comments.

Aslak Hellesoy suggests, “Use a token – a rubber ball or something – for each person giving status. Only the person holding the token is allowed to talk.”
Florian Weber said, “Everybody standing up makes meetings go faster and more focus…”

However, not everybody is convinced…

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

Perhaps Doug has worked in environments that encourage too many bad meetings. A client recently said, “meetings are expensive” when we agreed to not have too many meetings throughout the project. Less meetings that are well-focused are much more valuable and productive. :-)

The one that caught my attention was the comment made by Aslak Hellesoy… he goes on to say, _“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.”

This got me thinking about how we had made it a ritual to stand in similar positions and I would start off the meeting. The team wasn’t too keen on throwing a ball around the room as we often hold coffee in our hand… so I came up with the following solution…. which reunites us with our little friends, the index cards!

Randomizing Daily Standup Meetings

Basically, all I did was take a stack of index cards and write a number on each one. Then at 9:15am PST, we all walk into the meeting room and take one. Whoever got #1 goes first and we work our way up from there. We’ve done this three times so far and most of the team seems cool with it. I’ll keep you posted as we solidify our approach to The Daily Stand-up.

...and of course… this comment also reaffirmed our decisions to do daily stand-ups…

Kevin Rutherford said, “Cool. And by “inventing” the idea yourselves, I guess you have much greater buy-in too?”

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  1. Avatar
    Josh Mon, 29 May 2006 20:13:59 GMT

    I never bought into that “meetings are toxic” bit that 37 Signals pushes. Meetings are helpful when they’re run well, kept short and on task, and productive. Bad meetings, as you say, are, well… bad. ;)

    But I notice you only have 6 index cards. Is it really that difficult to keep such a small number of people involved and excited?

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    Robby Russell Mon, 29 May 2006 21:24:57 GMT Recommend me on Working with Rails

    Well, that’s just a count of the people that show up each morning for the meeting. :-)

    To answer your question though… no, it’s not difficult to keep six people involved and excited, but it’s always fun to reinvent things in order to spark something new.

    I haven’t read that article by 37signals before.. and after reading it now… I agree. Meetings can be toxic. It’s a matter of organizing them in a productive way… which is probably more complex than rocket science… at least it feels that way. ;-)

  3. Avatar
    Josh Tue, 30 May 2006 18:35:04 GMT

    Ok, fair enough. Planet Argon sounds like a fun place to work—the way your meetings are oraniged remind me of summer camp “get to know everyone” games. :D Certainly, you guys have a youthful spirit.

    And hey, if you don’t want to be tossing a ball around, but still want that random aspect, you could always play “spin the bottle”—but, you know, without all the kissing. ;)

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    Reagan Wed, 31 May 2006 04:29:40 GMT

    I sent these blog entries to my boss and he grumbled something about meetings never being productive. He thought standing up would make people uncomfortable after a hour. I then explained how you’ve decreased meeting time by increasing the time standing up! We’re going to discuss it at a meeting on Friday (a sit-down meeting) and I hope to implement something like this at work come next week!