Recently, we covered how Agile principles can be valuable to any team, even those outside of IT. Today, we’d like to talk about a simple but effective Agile strategy that can help organize any project type or team: Agile stand-up meetings.
The stand-up meeting is a daily meeting that teams perform at the start of the workday.
As the name suggests, a true stand-up meeting is done standing, often around a task board or other organizational tool.
The purpose of the meeting is to organize the day, make sure that the team has a good grasp of what one another are working on, and allow problems and blockers (anything that stops or slows down the delivery or acts as a hurdle) to be identified and dealt with in order to improve efficiency. There are three key areas to be aware of: focus, accountability, and follow-up; let’s delve a little deeper and see how the process can work for just about anyone or any project.
Probably the most important aspect of the stand-up meeting is that it is focused.
This is part of the reason that the meeting is held on your feet: no one wants to be standing for too long.
In general, each person presents three things to the team: what they have accomplished the day before, what they intend to accomplish today, and whether they have any blockers or impediments that are preventing them from achieving these goals. These three points should not be discussed: if a meeting needs to happen to determine new priorities or clear up a blocker, that should wait until after the stand-up meeting so it doesn’t waste the team’s time as a whole. Another important thing to avoid in a stand-up is grandstanding or showing off. It’s a simple summary, not a soapbox of one’s achievements, even if they really are great. By staying focused, the team can use the stand-up to effectively determine tasks and direction for the day and set itself up to efficiently deal with any obstacles.
One of the great benefits of the stand-up is that it lets every team member be accountable to the team for what they are accomplishing.
Each person takes ownership of the tasks they are working on, and is accountable to themselves and their peers to complete said tasks.
It also allows for self-reflection, when a task seems to be taking longer than usual to complete and the opportunity to ask for help clearing blockers when this is the case. As work gets completed, team members also get to keep their team apprised of their hard work, so there’s little worry that their efforts will go unnoticed. A side benefit of discussing tasks for each day at the beginning is that it allows the team to adapt to changing circumstances when necessary, as the leader knows exactly where everyone is in terms of completing their tasks, and also what resources they have at their disposal.
While it is important to keep the stand-up meeting itself concise and brief, issues and discussions raised during the stand-up should not be simply forgotten.
Follow-up meetings are a great way to leverage the insights gained and concerns raised during the stand-up to improve the team’s performance.
With daily stand-ups, it’s easy to remove blockers on an ongoing basis to prevent anyone from being stuck waiting for a fix. Additionally, team leaders can ensure that the right people are working on the right things and make resources available to keep the team working at their peak performance.
While stand-up meetings have gained plenty of traction in IT, it’s clear that their benefits are widely applicable to a broad range of fields. Try this and other Agile methods with your team today and see how they can directly benefit you.