stand up meeting

9 Tips for an effective Stand Up Meeting

Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything – John Kenneth Galbraith

W

hat do we mean with the term “Stand Up Meeting”?
 
It’s a daily team-meeting held to provide a status update to the team members. The term “stand-up” derives from the practice of having the attendees stand at the meeting, as the discomfort of standing for long periods helps to keep the meetings short.
 
We could also call these kind of meetings:
– daily scrum,
– daily huddle,
– morning roll-call,
– morning meetings,
– coordination meetings.
 

The frequency rule

This kind of meetings are usually held every day but we could take into account a different kind of frequency in order to adapt the practice to our project’s needs.
 
Having established the “frequency rule” – when we states that a rule is “established”, we mean that every person follows the rule without having to set a reminder for it, like having breakfast or brushing his/her teeth – we’d like to know how to make our “Stand Up” meetings really effective.
 
How can we do that?
 

Tips for an effective meeting

Here are some tips that I hope can help (they were useful for me).
 

Remember the goals of these meetings and organize all the activities keeping in mind those goals

G – To help start the day well
I – To support improvement
F – To reinforce focus on the right things
T – To reinforce the sense of team
S – To communicate what is going on
 
As a mnemonic device, think of GIFTS: Good Start, Improvement, Focus, Team, Status.
 

Attach the meeting strategy on the wall

Meeting Ground Rules ExampleAs I wrote in one of my preceding articles (How to organize an effective meeting) ground rules are explicit rules that the group agrees to follow to help them facilitate productive discussions. Ground rules are used to facilitate group interaction, not to restrict it.
Examples of some typically used ground rules include: arrive and start on time; stick to the agenda; everyone participates; be realistic when accepting follow-up tasks; focus on interests, not positions; separate people from the problem; respect different viewpoints; share responsibility for following the ground rules.
 

Call it a coordination meeting

Terms such as “stand up meeting” or “Scrum meeting” aren’t very clear, but “coordination meeting” is. By using clear terminology we make expectations regarding the purpose of the meeting crystal clear, thereby reducing the chance for confusion.

Choose a leader

Every stand-up needs a leader. This leader can rotate to create autonomy or be designated to maintain consistency. In either case, the person who facilitates the stand-up must balance time-awareness and flexibility.
 
Just one extra-advice: this is not a role for the timid. We need someone who will start the meeting on time, even if no one is there! He or she needs to work the agenda rigidly, cut off discussion and send it offline when needed, clearly outline the action items and end on time.




Choose the correct frequency and make it regular

The best way to get the best from our Stand Up meetings is to find the same time first thing in the morning – e.g. sometime between 8:30/9:00 AM – the reason is that by 9 AM everyone can start his/her day.
 

Stand Up

Let’s take away every chair from the meeting room; we have to avoid the meeting takes too long! This is not a manager’s meeting, it’s a quick check in, update and team communication opportunity – 15/20 minutes max.
 

Define a “Plan of the Day”

Start each day with a forecast of coming events, priorities and deliverables for the day.
 
Just one extra-advice: operate from a punch list prepared before the meeting – use this tool to track and enforce action items and deadlines. Don’t review all items, just those due soon, due today or are overdue.
 

Stay on topic

If the meeting starts to focus on something that may be important, but is of interest to only a few, then you are off track. Only topics of universal interest should be discussed at these sessions.
 
Just one extra-advice: define a “parking lot” for topics that are more appropriate for a manager’s meeting, tracking meeting or offline discussion. Have a notebook, flip chart, or white board to document topics that need to be addressed but do not pertain to the whole team or require a lengthier discussion.
 

Have a Daily Stand Up Report

This provides the team with a written record of everything that has to do with occupancy. It does not have to be fancy, but it should contain useful information. We cannot expect our team members to keep all this information in their heads, and all of it is important in increasing occupancy.
 
Ok, the ones above are the basis; do you want some extra tips?
 

Extra Tip 1 – Start meetings with either a Joke of The Day or a Question of The Day

I have seen teams have a lot of fun introducing this on a daily or weekly basis. It helps the team get to know each other better!

Extra Tip 2 – Instill Intrigue

As a meeting leader, connect your laptop to a projector. While waiting for your colleagues to arrive, display an interesting image on the screen. It could be an animal or a short comic. The trick is to find an image that doesn’t spark too much off-topic conversation. You should also change the image routinely so people wonder what they’ll see next.

Extra Tip 3 – Evaluate Initial Stand-Ups

If you’re just starting to implement stand-up meetings, expect some trial and error. For example, you might conduct meetings in a “round robin” style but find that people lose focus while they’re waiting for their turn to speak. In this case, a task-based format might be more effective, as employees will speak frequently and briefly depending on the project being discussed.

Extra Tip 4 – Make it fun

Keep the mood upbeat by incorporating elements of humor. For example, some companies will toss around a ball or rubber chicken to determine who gets to speak next. If someone is rambling on for too long, an employee could hold up stop sign (or some other visual aid) to indicate it is time to move on.

I’m an enthusiastic and highly motivated PMP and Prince2 (Foundation) Senior Program Manager with 16+ years experience in the Healthcare industry. I often work in highly pressurized and challenging environments, managing a large-scale software development program up to an order value of €6M. I’m extremely professional in approach and behaviour, adaptable to change, very meticulous, collaborative, energetic, resilient, innovative, proactive and pragmatic. I’m passionate about process improvement, technology innovation, knowledge sharing techniques and how businesses can capitalize on social media integration. My greatest strength is helping to focus my organization’s efforts on the activities necessary to achieve strategic goals and objectives in order to consistently meet both the customer’s and business’ needs; on time and under budget.
  • Revino

    Hi. Thanks
    for this nice article. We figured out that standup meetings are great but
    needed improvement (they took a lot of time and de-focussed our colleagues).
    Because of this we developed a SaaS tool to ʺautomateʺ the daily standup meetings – with just a single
    email. If you like to take a look: http://www.30secondsmail.com. Best, Revino

    • Hi Revino, thanks for this advice. I’ll take a look to the software and come back to you with a reply.

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