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Paul DeLong

Customer Success Manager

Paul is the “the best part of training,” according to PLAYBOOK's clients. Paul hones his lean and agile skills mountain biking where no man has gone before!

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Lean Project Management (Part 10): Daily standup (scrum) meetings

Paul DeLong- 08/21/18 03:54 PM

What is a daily stand-up or scrum meeting?


A daily standup meeting or scrum meeting is a daily, 15-min long, meeting where each person spends a few minutes preparing, a few minutes discussing what’s blocking their progress, a few minutes getting up to speed with the rest of the team’s progress and blockages – every single day. On the occasion a team member learns something that effects their work, they learn about it soon enough make a change (fast feedback). Daily standup meetings keep the team motivated, focused, and working on the right things at the right time.

This is Part 10 of our series on Lean Agile project management. In this post, we discuss the benefits of holding daily standup meetings to keep the project team focused, daily. And don't forget to download your free daily huddle flow chart at the end of this post.

What is the importance of holding daily standup meetings?

We've covered a variety of Lean principles that have a direct impact on speed to market -- from resource overload to the primary drivers of success in any project. In this part, we discuss the importance of daily standup meetings for fast feedback and execution.

Read our complete guide to Lean Agile project management here:

View the Guide

How to hold effective daily standup meetings 

How effective would a football team be if they planned every play they would run in the order they would run it, before the game, and they ‘stuck to the plan’ despite what was happening in the game? How long before they would be running the ball when they should be passing it, or vice-versa? How many games would they win?

The fact is, football games, like product development projects (especially those which require innovation) are too complex and unpredictable to know in advance exactly what will need to be done from start to finish and every step along the way.

Huddles and audibles at the line of scrimmage are game changing

DailyStandupMeeting

 

In order to be effective, players and coaches must make adjustments between each play. Similarly, project teams need to make adjustments to their plans and priorities every day.

As discussed in the previous post, traditional project teams typically have a weekly, one-hour long project meeting. In this approach project teams receive information in large batches (one week’s worth of information), with longer feedback loops (weekly).

In addition, each person might spend 30 minutes preparing for the weekly meeting, 10 minutes sharing their updates during the meeting and the other 50 minutes listening to everyone else give their updates. A team member may learn something that effected his work this week only to find out that the person sharing the information acquired this knowledge several days ago (delayed learning/information sharing).

What do football teams typically do before every play? Huddle. Why? Huddles ensure each player knows his role before each and every play and the huddle keeps the team aligned and focused on scoring points and winning the game. A more effective approach, therefore, is to conduct daily, 15-min long, standup meetings. Each person spends a few minutes preparing, a few minutes discussing what’s blocking their progress, a few minutes getting up to speed with the rest of the team’s progress and blockages – every single day. And on the occasion a team member learns something that effects their work, they learn about it soon enough make a change (fast feedback). 

Most importantly, daily standup meetings keep the team motivated, focused, and working on the right things at the right time.

How to hold effective standup meetings

Standups are strictly time-boxed to 15 minutes to keep the discussion brisk and relevant. Daily standups also have a very specific agenda:

  1. What got done yesterday? Synchronize handoffs to ensure we don’t drop the ball.
  2. What are today’s priorities and are they clear and common for everyone? Ensure everyone is working on the right things at the right time.
  3. Who is blocked and what can we do about it? We can avoid unnecessary delays if we know about them earlier.
  4. Proactively manage queues, resource loading and availability, and multitasking.

When the team is conducting effective standup meetings, potential delays to the project are found early and quickly, allowing the team to proactively find ways to stay on schedule. 

Want a deeper dive on how to run a daily stand-up meeting?  Read our other posts on how to run a daily standup meeting 

What not to do during standup meetings

Teams that don’t run effective standup meetings are those where each team member gives in-depth status reports, repeating the same information day after day, or the discussion is allowed to spirals into a sea of in-depth technical problem-solving discussions.

Team members often don’t see much value in these types of meetings and feel they only waste more of their precious time. Like a football team, product development teams must be able to execute daily standup meetings (huddles) highly effectively. To do so requires good training, practice, and coaching.

PLAYBOOK supports daily standup meetings

In PLAYBOOK, team members update the status of their tasks daily rather than weekly so plans are always up-to-date and accurate, and priority changes are known immediately. Teams are empowered and communication is greatly improved. Everyone’s more focused, progress is seen daily and projects get done sooner.

Duration = Queue Time + + Blocked Duration

Effective standup meetings help us accomplish all of our goals!

  1. Minimize Queue Time
  2. Minimize Work
  3. Maximize Resource Availability
  4. Minimize Blocked Duration

Download your free daily huddle flow chart to help you finetune your daily standups. 

Download My Daily Huddle Agenda

The series is broken into 10 parts that cover the following topics.