Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Best Meeting of the Day, The Standup Meeting

Photo Courtesy of Visual Management Blog

A stand-up meeting is a daily team meeting held to provide a status update to the team members. This meeting is also referred to as Obeya in Japanese, meaning “the big room”; in agile circles a “scrum” or huddle; and in the automotive industry “fast response”.

The purpose of these meetings is essentially the same:
         • Alignment through communication with the team
         • Identification and remedies for roadblocks

So what do we talk about during the daily stand-up? Well, Yesterday, Today, and Obstacles.

Some people are talkative and tend to wander off into story telling. Some people want to engage in problem solving immediately after hearing a problem. Meetings that take too long tend to have low energy and participants not directly related to a long discussion will tend to be distracted. `

Therefore, focus the meeting using the following format:

         • Start the meeting early in the day.
         • Should last no more than 15 minutes.
         • The entire team should attend (use a delegate or liaison
            for support).
         • The meeting leader (facilitator) should ask these simple
                   o What did I accomplish yesterday?
                   o What will I do today?
                   o What obstacles are impeding my progress?

The frequency of stand-up meetings depends on the criticality of items discussed or the urgency of the project. More critical, more urgent items like customer complaints or high level projects may be daily to twice daily while other activities could meet less often. This doesn’t replace necessary team meeting to accomplish the project milestones.

Stand-up meeting provide a number of powerful benefits for teams:

          • Creates a shared language among team members
          • Allows for real-time reallocation of resources
          • Enables a focus on value-creating activities
          • Established a clear work plan for each day
          • Provides a mechanism for cultural change
          • Builds team identity and emotional commitment

From experience I have learned the following tips can help improve the effectiveness of your stand-up meetings:

         • Consider the use of a kitchen timer to ensure your
           meetings won’t last more 15 minutes.
         • A speaker phone can be used to include team members
           that are off-site.
         • Keep the attendance limited to those team members
           who actually create deliverables and perform actions.
         • Include “extended team” members only when their
           activity level on the project is high.
         • Pass a talking stick around so there is less cross-talk.
           (A strong facilitator is beneficial.)
         • Stand around the story/task board so you can focus and
           keep the board up to date as well.
         • Highlight issues but solve them later, this meeting is not
           for extended conversations.

Although, the daily stand up is a wonderful tool for collaboration, it is also useful to highlight a lot of obstacles and things that are stopping the team from reaching excellence. Management’s main role is to remove the obstacles and create conditions for the team to do their work efficiently.

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