The Daily Stand-up.  When done poorly, team members start to avoid it. Other’s schedule meeting overtop it.  For the ones that attend, is almost like you can see a thought bubble above their head saying

“Another boring status meeting.  If they want to know what I’m working on, why dont they look at the task board?!?”

If you have been in this situation, you are not alone.  It is easy to drift away from the true intent of the daily standup.

Even the standard questions “What did you do yesterday?”  “What are you going to do today?” “Do you have any impediments?”  can lull us into a mindless response. 

But the key to a great stand-up is to remember that The Daily standup is a planning session, not a status meeting.

The primary purpose of the daily standup is to plan the next 24 hours, not to summarize the last 24 hours.  I want the second part to sink in for a second.

Not everyone needs to talk about what they have done.  Your accomplishments over the last 24 hours should be shared ONLY if that information is needed to plan the next 24 hours.  At times this information is needed, but sometimes it is not.

Some of you might be looking for the torches and pitchforks, so let me provide an example.

A member of your team spent the last three days working on a report for a group of external regulators.  As part of the story, this team member finished the report and sent it to the appropriate people.    Assume that no other stories are dependent on the report, the team member doesn’t need to talk in detail about what was done yesterday (or during the last three days).  They only need to talk about the new story they plan to pick up.    

It’s easy to write down that a standup should be a planning meeting, but the question remains; How can we keep our daily standup on track and not sound like a status meeting?

One of the best ways I have found is to mentally change the direction you are looking during standup.  Instead of looking back, look forward.  Instead of thinking about what you’ve done, think of what you are going to do.

State your team’s most important vision or goal.  This might be your sprint goal.  It might be a PI objective.  It might be the next release.

With that vision in mind, have the team answer the following questions.

“What am I going to do today to advance our primary goal?” 

“What impediment do I have that is preventing me from advancing our primary goal?”

Only include what you did yesterday if it is needed to plan for today.  By excluding yesterday’s work when ever possible, the team starts to change habits and the standup start to lose the status feel.

This might seem difficult at first, but it is worth the effort.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Photo by Olga Guryanova on Unsplash