Agile scrum involves many activities, through those are less than conventional waterfall process model. Amongst those stand up is an activity that occurs daily. As it occurs daily, it is very important to ensure effectiveness in stand up meetings. Let us discuss what is stand up and how to make them effective.

What is Stand up Meeting?

Daily, at a fixed time, a team meets to provide status updates to other team members in stand up meeting. This can be a very simple definition of a stand up meeting. This is also called as stand up, daily scrum, quick status update etc.

What do We Speak in Stand up Meeting?

  • What is done between this stand up since previous stand up meetings?
  • What will be done till next stand up meeting?
  • Any blockings or items that will require follow up discussions post stand up meeting

Each team member tells this to rest of the team in a stand up meeting.

Stand Up Meeting

Important Points for Stand up Meeting:

  • Timeboxed: It is conducted for fixed duration 5-15 minutes. That is why instead of seating in a room, standing is encouraged, so that the meeting is finished in time. To keep time, follow up one to one discussions, or smaller team meetings are encouraged.
  • Don’t Postpone: Whatever may be the reason, but if a team is working on certain day, stand up should not be postponed. Even if any of the team members is absent, or there is any urgent work, stand up meeting must go on.
  • Don’t Wait for Stand up to Raise a Block: Stand up definition says – raise blocks in stand up. Many times team members tend to wait till next stand up meeting to come and raise something that is blocking their task in hand. As frequency of stand up is daily, developer may lose half a day or even more if he or she waits to get a block resolved. Then the question is why developer should wait for next stand up. They can very well go to Scrum Master and raise the block, get it solved, and complete whatever they are supposed to complete till next stand up. But if there is immediate stand up coming, don’t hesitate to raise a block in stand up itself.
  • Scrum Master and Team can Identify Blocking from Team Member’s Statuses: A team member can identify block for oneself and even for others. Though we are talking about experienced team members in a team for Scrum, but they can differ in seeing something that going to block them in few hours. While listening to updates from others, Scrum Master and other team members can also highlight any block that is coming in someone’s direction. This will help team to avoid impact due to that block.
  • Time Management and Punctuality: If stand up is at 10 AM, then all team members should be assembling at stand up place may be 2 minutes prior. In couple of teams, we even recorded names of people who come late or remained absent to stand up, and consolidated them over Sprint to make them sponsor a team lunch, coffee or any small event. It is not a penalty feeling, but we saw people running for stand up to meet the time so that their name does not appear on the board of people late/missing. Further team events did help to create right synergy in team; it was a team building activity.
  • Avoid Long Talks: Some people like to speak more; sometimes managers are interested in digging things, and sometimes one of the team members has a lot to discuss, and so many other reasons. All this leads to longer talks by one person or between two people. Scrum Master may interrupt such talks and take stand up forward. Stand up is to trigger and encourage post stand up specific discussions.
  • Avoid Discussions that can be taken One to One: Another stand up time eaters are those discussions which can be taken offline. Scrum Master needs to suggest offline discussions on any of the topics that can take longer time or not of other team member’s interest. It is basically filtering things which are not meant for stand up meetings.
  • Do not entertain Missing/Skipping Scrum: As told under time management, it needs to be controlled properly. Stand up meeting has to be a culture of Scrum team. Hence anything that can become an obstacle in these needs to be taken seriously and stopped. Team member needs to inform well in advance about the absentees.
  • Has it Become Just a Ritual?: After few sprints, it may be possible that stand up is just a ritual. Scrum Master and team needs to keep an eye on this. Effectiveness of stand up meeting needs to be closely monitored. It is to make team members aware of each other’s work and blockings. Indirectly it gives Scrum Master complete progress picture on certain day’s tasks. It is to give real-time status of work. Hence it must serve this purpose.
  • Distributed Stand up is Different: If teams are not collocated, then teams come across challenges of distributed stand up. Challenges are something like this
    • Stand up at same time is not always possible due to time difference. Try to share recording of stand up amongst the teams. If it is not possible then go for details sharing through email.
    • Logistics for same time stand up so that all can hear and participate. It should be possible in these technology days to have good logistics. But if not, then go for different stand ups.

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