Nowadays, companies in different industries need to act with determination and flexibility. A growing number of them are embracing the Agile ways of working as beneficial for their businesses. For instance, the understanding that the Agile approach is prevalent only in the IT sector is still valid, but other industries have recently successfully adopted it. Indeed, the Agile adoption rate among marketers has reached 51%, as stated by the 4th Annual State of Agile Marketing Report collaborated between Agile Sherpas and Forrester Research. This increasing number is strong evidence of the urgent need of shifting priorities and improving productivity in the market.
What do effective standup meetings look like?
Daily standup meetings are a fundamental part of Agile development, as you can see in the graphic below. It is the second most preferred practice in the marketing departments participating in the 4th Annual State of Agile Marketing Report. The name of these meetings comes from the way they are held. The attendees typically participate while standing, keeping the sessions short because of the discomfort of standing longer. Of course, you do not need to stand for the whole duration of the meeting, but I would recommend it to give it a go. They are supposed to be a quick and efficient way for the team members to ‘stand’ together, run through the day’s priorities, and remove the blockers.
Running a standup helps to create a routine that makes the team feel secure. You are not obliged to follow the traditional style of standup that includes working for the board, answering questions, and discussing obstacles (although it proved to be a successful one). Instead, it would help if you organized it to fit your team goals, individual personalities, and company culture. However, keep it no no more than 15 minutes daily and be sure that the team provides a status update answering the following 4 questions:
- What was accomplished since the last standup?
- What will be completed before the next standup?
- Are there obstacles preventing the progress and what are they?
- Do I need any support before the next standup?
Management of standup meetings
The most successful standup meetings are a sort of visual representation of the project workflow, whether a physical or digital Kanban board. At the beginning of a standup, people move cards on the board to show progress. When done with that, each person on the team should report the status of the work items.
Daily standup meetings encourage the smooth flow of information within the team. In a traditional hierarchical management structure, information is passed down to employees or executives, making its way through middle management. Modern Agile teams value a flat management style and member autonomy. Standups bring them together to gather and transparently share information, keeping everyone up to date with the project progress.
Agile is very useful for remote teams because of its adaptable nature, letting people work independently and still conduct these short meetings. Depending on what time zones people are in, you might have to run them asynchronously via email or instant message throughout the day rather than having everyone together at the same time.
However, to succeed in these meetings, you need to keep everyone focused on a common goal as:
- sharing updates on the project
- prioritizing resources
- deciding for the next steps
Top benefits of daily standup meetings
Standup meetings set the mood for the day, therefore it’s important to put some effort to keep them positive and engaging. This persistence will pay off long-term, improving the work environment. Sharing updates and overcoming roadblocks is one side of the coin, but staying aligned as a team and gaining extra knowledge is what makes them really precious.
The greatest benefit of these meetings is getting support and advice from the team members. The working environment becomes a place of positive attitudes, commitment, and togetherness that lead to successful business outcomes and even significant achievement. This creates a sense of stability, connectivity, and community belonging.
When the team sees how the work progresses on the project board, they have visual proof. With its level of transparency, you will quickly identify problematic work stages. By improving those, your will soon work more efficiently. For remote teams, virtual standup meetings can be run using digital communication tools like Standuply or Standups. For detailed and helpful mapping of your process, you can use either a basic Kanban board or create as many subsections as you need to visualize your workflow.
No matter the industry, pitfalls arise every once in a while. Bringing them to the team’s attention sooner rather than later means you can develop a solution quicker and avoid any possible delay. Look at daily standup meetings as an opportunity, not an obligation. Bringing the whole team together to set the day’s priorities and draw on each other’s expertise is crucial for keeping your workflow efficient, streamlined and free from obstacles.
Regularly using some time with the team to learn about the roadblocks you need to eliminate and keep work flowing is priceless. Do not let the meeting get sidetracked with small talk and brand new topics; involve yourselves in in-depth discussions about how to tackle the most pressing obstacles. Not only can you progress, but you can learn a lot from your colleagues. Each team member has a different educational and professional background and can convey valuable knowledge and experience.
Keeping the team informed about every person’s progress, as well as anything that’s holding them up is important. It saves time in the long run – everyone has a glance at the other parts of the project, and there is no need for extra meetings. Make sure to keep everyone on the same page in terms of goals and top priorities.
Agility is about embracing change, and daily standup meetings are the right place to discuss how this can happen when obstacles arise. Blaming is not the way to go through delayed deadlines, wrong strategies, or lack of data. Transparency is a good ally, and the team members appreciate it when they are familiar with the big picture. Moreover, every person has feedback for others. Still, instead of long boring meetings, the quick standups give the team time to air any issues or impediments they might be experiencing for getting the job done better and avoiding frustrations.
One of the Agile principles promotes communication as the right and only way to avoid a project failure. Whether face-to-face or online, whether synchronous or asynchronous, regular communication between team members encourages commitment and adherence to deadlines. The ability to understand each other and to learn to speak the same language needs a certain time, persistence, and in-house procedures.
Through empathy, peaceful communication, and understanding of roles and responsibilities, trust will start to build as an outcome of regular standup meetings. Trust allows an agile team to:
- respond rapidly to changes as they emerge
- avoid unnecessary complaints when the project is in a crucial stage
- find the best possible solution for each situation
Make your standup meetings even more beneficial
As you already know, Agile standups improve communication, strengthen the team’s understanding for pursuing common goals, promote transparency, teamwork, collaboration, and velocity. Therefore, it is important to create a routine that discusses the abovementioned 4 questions.
However, a routine does not mean boredom. Make the standup meeting more interesting by rotating the meeting facilitator. It’s also important to keep the team’s interest level with some funny jokes, inspiring quotes, memes, or videos. Take a quick moment to remind each and every team member about the value of their work by any positive customer feedback.
While daily standups might be beneficial for some teams and organizations, here at Motion Software we encourage asynchronous communication in which each team communicates through its own channel. This way we are enabling easy communication through different time zones while respecting everyone’s time.
Keep in mind some common mistakes during a daily standup meeting that slow down their progress. One of the most common ones is turning them into a status meeting. They are not designed to be an overview of every single task people plan to do that day. And they are not a time for listing off meetings and appointments.
Remember that even the goal of standup meetings is to keep the team apprised of what is going on and to help unblock any issues at the start of each day. But if your team members start their day in different time zones, standup meetings could not be so effective because they will be at the start of the day for one person but hours into the day for another. A better approach would be to create new ways to communicate, like Agile encourages, such as posting a status update at the end of the day rather than holding a standup.
And do not get frustrated if your partners are not as Agile as you are. Would you please encourage them to start their Agile journey? And even if companies are not eager to fully implement Agile methodology, they could borrow ideas from it – like the daily standup meetings, for example. And adopt these techniques and practices of Agile that work for them and help them make their business more successful.
Some leaders might have an alternative opinion on these types of meetings as they might end up being completely useless if not done the right way. Here are some of the main issues to avoid when planning your daily stand-ups.