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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Stand-Up for Productivity

I’m a huge fan of Stand-Up Meetings because they are an effective way to get everyone up to date and to identify potential roadblocks ahead. Less emails, less unfocused hour-long meetings, less interruptions, more flow time. Usually they take around 15 minutes and are held standing up (surprise!). The idea is to keep the meeting short and to the point.

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.

Stand-ups, like software or machines, are tools. They don’t solve problems by themselves. But they do require careful deployment and close attention to the human element to ensure that you’re creating an environment that’s open and vocal, where teams work together to get the job done.

To sum it up: an effective daily stand-up meetings can help your team to be more productive, more effective, and ultimately, more impactful.

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