How daily stand up meetings can change the office dynamic

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In an attempt to improve communication and drive in the workplace, agile marketing teams meet daily with a focus on maintaining momentum for all team members on all tasks.

Usually referred to as the daily stand up, or daily scrum, this meeting is facilitated by an individual whose primary responsibility is to enable successful and ongoing productivity from the agile marketing team (usually called the scrum master).

Taking place in the morning, it includes all active members of the agile marketing team and lasts 15-20 minutes to complete. The practice that gives the daily stand its name is, simply, that whole team stands during the meeting; the goal should be to progress through as quickly as possible, enabling the team to get back to the task at hand. In this meeting the key focus is to understand the answers to the following questions:

What was achieved yesterday?

What the plan is for today?

What obstacles stand in the way of progress?

Simply, the daily stand up is a tool to empower ongoing productivity and effectiveness, and, considering what gets measured gets done, allowing a team committed to agile ways of working to demonstrate its desire for ownership and accountability daily.

However, there is always an opportunity to optimise the effectiveness of the stand up and numerous ways to cut how the session is structured; keep track on the degree of separation amongst teams and look to switch your focus from task to people, or people to task as required.

Why Stand Up?

There are many productivity studies to support standing in meetings, but there is also some interesting science.

Stand up meetings are 33% shorter than sitting and more likely to end early – less time in meetings means more time (and energy) for working. Plus, standing ramps up your metabolism and promotes an increased sense of alertness – never a bad thing.

If you have team members who are not collocated, then encourage them to conference in as individuals from their own workstations rather than via one camera; you’ll feel closer as a team. But do ask that they stand – try to instill the same psychology whether the team member is present in your room or their own.

The daily stand up should not be used as:

A status meeting

There are many tools, both technology based (such as Trello) and physical (Post-it notes and whiteboards) to help you keep track of progress throughout a sprint, so there’s no need to waste time reviewing this daily. Everyone in the team should have a clear understanding of how things are progressing from interacting with these tools daily.

A technical discussion

A multidisciplinary, collocated team will be in constant communication throughout the day, tackling problems and discussing the technical aspects of delivery ongoing. Discourse on the appropriate approach, platform or solution isn’t for the stand up.

A forum for problem solving

Working together throughout the day provides the forum to solve problems, so avoid the temptation to get into tackling the problems in the stand up. Even if you think it will be a quick discussion, it won’t be a discussion that necessarily involves everyone, so you will waste people’s time.

A planning meeting

Planning takes place in the sprint planning meeting. If you are finding the need to plan mid-sprint, then you need to give some attention to improving the effectiveness of your sprint planning sessions.

A field trip

Off-site meetings are great for planning and helpful when you need to take inspiration to help re-frame problems. The daily stand up isn’t the time for field trips. Stay close to home. In fact, just standing up at your desks is as good as anywhere, as you’ll be close to your tools and resources.

An opportunity to gripe

Things don’t always go to plan, but try to not let frustration creep into your stand up. Barriers can be professionally and courteously described without bringing the mood down and impacting negatively on the team’s collective morale and motivation.

It’s far from over when it’s over

Taking a retrospective view of each sprint and looking for ways to improve the way you work is critical to improving your performance as a team over time. You should apply the same thinking to the way you manage your daily stand ups. You’ll stay sane by limiting the number of ideas you test at any one point – test a single enhancement at a time and see how you go. Do this and you’ll find that there is no perfect agile marketing stand up, it just keeps getting better.

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