How to Run a Sharp Stand-Up

What is the Daily Scrum?

The Daily Scrum / huddle / stand-up.  It has a million different names.   The purpose of this meeting is akin to the rugby metaphor of a reset of the game.  Think of it as a daily reset, because this is where you set the scene for your day by touching base with your daily goals and blockers, and those of your teammates, and plan for the next 24-hours.

It is the most common heartbeat meeting for many teams, but also the most commonly badly run one.

Here are some tips to keep your stand-up sharp.

Agree on a format as a team.

Give the meeting structure by agreeing on a standard set of questions.

For teams that are new to Agile, here are the suggested questions.

  • What did I accomplish yesterday?
  • What is my goal for today?
  • What’s standing in my way?

Teams that have mastered their stand-ups may choose to adapt the questions.  Here are more ideas.

The Quarter Hour of Power

Reserve 15-minutes in people’s calendars for detailed discussions immediately after the stand-up.  A fourth question you could consider adding to the standard questions above is:

“Who do I need to touch-base with after the stand-up?”

That way the FOMO is put to bed because you know you’ll have some time set aside for a more detailed discussion.

Use a Talking Stick

Some teams agree on holding a particular object to signify who has the floor.  When they are done with their piece, they can pass the object to the next person.  This is called a “talking stick” and can take the form of many things, such as an actual stick, a pen, a stress-ball, or a bluetooth microphone (great idea for remote participants).

Start on Time

Starting the meeting on time puts it on a good foot to start with.  Those who miss it will get the picture – you snooze you lose!

Remote Set-Up

If you’re facilitating, turn up 5 minutes before the meeting to get the audio going.  This is 5 minutes on 1 person, as opposed to 5 on many.  It also sends the message to remote participants that they are a valued part of the meeting.

Rate the Meeting

At the end of the stand-up, rate on a scale of 1-5 how useful it was to everyone.  This gives you a data point for improving your meeting.  Experiment with small changes to your meeting, then re-rate it to see if that made a change.

Talk to a Board

Talk to something visual – whether it be a project plan or Kanban board.  Putting something visual in front of everyone gives them a point of attention, and keeps the meeting focused.

Keep Communicating Outside the Stand-Up

If your Daily Scrum is becoming overly lengthy and turning into a working group, it is usually an indication that you’re not communicating enough with your colleagues.  Do not rely on the daily stand-up as the only means of communication.


Do you have any other suggestions?

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