Stand Up Meetings: Patterns And AntiPatterns

It’s not so clear sometimes what tasks or features your peers are doing right now. Sometimes you get into an unpleasant situation when you are fighting a complex task whereas your colleague already found the solution a month ago for a similar task.

Александр Бындю
Александр Бындю · 6 сентября 2015
IT-архитектор · Эксперт в Agile и Lean · Основатель компании Byndyusoft

The issues can be found and fixed during Stand-up Meetings, so called briefings, Daily Scrums, which are strongly recommended by gurus of Scrum and eXtream Programming.

What are Stand-up Meetings?

This is a cheap and very effective practice you can implement in your company. A meeting is held by the whole product team daily. Each member answers three simple questions:

  1. What did I accomplish yesterday? — Pride of results
  2. What will I do today? — Promise to the team
  3. What obstacles are impeding my progress? — Ask for help

Patterns and AntiPatterns

Conducting standups for more than eight years on different teams, companies and in different countries, I’ve discovered some useful patterns and bad practices. If you know and implement them correctly, your meetings will be profitable. Otherwise, you will encounter the boring faces of your team members.

Useful patterns

  1. Conduct standups in the morning. It creates a useful vision for the day.
  2. You need one passionate peer who will inform others about the standup. One time I saw a real big gong on the wall that a Scrum Master beat to call a team for the Daily Scrum.
  3. To avoid uncomfortable pauses, a speaker holds a pen or a marker while he is talking. When he finished, he gives it to a random person until all people have participated in the meeting.
  4. The whole product team stands together, no excuses for big managers or antisocial people.
  5. During a standup, you have to find someone who can help you to overcome your challenges and obstacles.
  6. Try to find a partner for a Pair Programming practice.
  7. When somebody explains a problem, the team has to try to find a way to help.
  8. Prepare for standups. Find out yesterday’s commits, closed tickets etc.
  9. You will see everybody’s face if you stay in a circle.
  10. Stand in front of some form of visualization. If you use Kanban you should stand in front of a Kanban board and a Cumulative diagram, for example.
  11. Break up monologues or conversations that are too long and don’t relate to the topic. Remember, you have a limited timeframe for standups.
  12. Hold meetings at the same time. Don’t wait for latecomers. If somebody comes late, he or she has to buy cookies for everybody.
  13. Ask for help and don’t be shy. Discuss problems and obstacles openly.
  14. Achievement sharing and praise receiving are important acts for team motivation.
  15. Plan your day during a standup.
  16. Make a commitment to achieve a result by the end of the day.
  17. Be careful to have a balance between talking and listening.
  18. Take it easy and enjoy :)

Bad Practices

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A standup meeting looks very simple but a small mistake can demotivate your colleagues. To get profit from standups take these tips into consideration:

  1. Talk brief but concrete.
  2. The perfect time to answer the three questions is 15 minutes for a team of 10 people.
  3. Keep standing the entire meeting. Standing on your feet is tiring so people are going to speak quickly.
  4. Don’t discuss technical details. Mark all technical questions on the board and dive into details after the standup.
  5. Stop personal talking.
  6. Have meetings regularly as standups are not just a pastime.
  7. Don’t let a manager write the team’s promises made during standups because at the end of the day this tricky guy can check to see if they have been accomplished. This will kill motivation.
  8. Don’t turn standups into a formal report.

I hope these tips will take your standups to the next level of productivity. Also, please check out how to hold Standups in Kanban style.

Learn more

  1. It’s Not Just Standing Up: Patterns of Daily Stand-up Meetings
  2. AgileGuru: Daily Scrum Meeting
  3. 10 Reasons We Have Daily Stand Up Meetings
  4. InfoQ: What Makes a Good Stand Up Meeting?
  5. Are daily stand-ups necessary?
  6. 7 Mistakes During the Daily Stand-up Meeting