People who have experienced good stand-ups will generally know what can be done when things aren’t working well. This capability is obviously less likely for people with limited experience to reflect on. I’ve written this paper as an attempt to partly compensate for inexperience by describing the benefits and consequences of common practices for daily stand-ups. These patterns of stand-ups are intended to help direct the experimentation and adjustment of new practitioners as well as provide points of reflection to experienced practitioners.
Goals for Standups
Summarizing several papers and references ([Anderson, 2002], [Beedle et al., 2000], [Cochango, 2006], [OrgPatternsStandUp], [Rising, 2002], [Rising and Janoff, 2002], [Wells, 1999]) daily stand-ups should achieve the following goals:
communicate daily status, progress, and plans to the team and any observers
identify obstacles so that the team can take steps to remove them
set direction and focus
build a team
The Feel of an Effective Daily Stand-up
Technically, the meeting is a “daily stand-up” if everyone is standing up and the meeting is held every day. However, there is a different feel to a good stand-up that distinguishes it from an empty ritual.
An early description of daily stand-up meetings called them Daily Scrums [Beedle et al., 2000] with an intentional association with the rugby term. The energy level of a daily stand-up should perhaps not be quite as high as that of a rugby scrum but it should still feel energising. Quickness and high energy support the goal of setting focus. Long, low-energy meetings tend to distract and mute the day.
Good stand-ups will feel supportive. When people are knocked down every time they raise a problem, they will tend to stop raising problems. Beyond preventing removal of obstacles, a non-supportive stand-up works against team dynamics. The stand-up instead becomes a ritual that team members dread [LaPlante, 2003].
When things are going right, there isn’t much direction or facilitation required for the stand-up. A good stand-up will feel self-managed.