Stand-up and Be Counted

Stand-up and Be Counted

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I came across a wonderful post about changing the daily stand-up meeting. It aligned incredibly well with how my own thinking has evolved of late. It’s by Cheryl Hammond from Northwest cadence. She makes some points around reframing the questions and/or focus of the daily standup meeting.

While I don’t agree with the entire premise of her recommendation, she did make me think some more about it and most of what she said aligned with my own evolving position.

The original 3 Questions

  1. What did I complete yesterday?
  2. What do I plan on working on today?
  3. Is there anything impeding my progress?

As you can tell in my emphasis points, I’ve struggled more and more with these questions over the years. I think they are a good facilitation mechanism to inspire cross-team collaboration, but I’ve come to the conclusion that the emphasis of the questions is wrong.

They focus on the individual and individual progress. They’re good, but not great. What does great look like? I’m glad you asked!

New 3 Questions

I’d like to reframe the questions into the following. While it’s not a huge change, I think the emphasis change is truly important:

  1. How did I contribute to the teams meeting our Sprint Goal yesterday?
  2. What focus should I have in advancing our progress towards our Sprint Goal today?
  3. How confident am I in our meeting the overall Sprint Goal?

So, what are the changes?

First, I want the entire team to focus on their commitment to the Sprint Goal and how they’re progressing towards it. I literally don’t care about individual progress or performance. I want to focus all efforts towards the teams’ commitment towards their goal.

I like leveraging a Fist-of-Five for driving discussion for #3. In fact, I don’t care if individuals speak to the question. I’d rather that we ask a FoF question and have the team explore their overall confidence and what might be impacting (lowering) it. Then explore what to do, as a team, to increase their overall confidence.

This actually aligns with Cheryl’s recommendation of focusing on “the One” question. While I like the notion of three questions and the group interacting, I don’t like the notion of having a single-point question/ceremony that might lead to no discussion.

I also want the questions to drive more collaborative behavior, i.e. pairing, swarming, helping each other out, and an overall focus on team throughput rather than individual business.

Isn’t it funny? You’d think that after 10-15 years or more of having daily stand-up meetings that we’d have a universally agreed way of conducting them. I think the key thing I’m focusing on has little to do with the “questions” and all to do with the collaboration.

From my perspective the Daily Standup is NOT a status meeting. It’s a team collaboration focused towards getting things delivered high-quality and high-value solutions to your clients’ challenges as a team. As long as that is the focus, I don’t know if I care what questions inspire the collaboration and ultimately delivery of results.

Oh and thanks to Federico Bridger, my Velocity Partners colleague, for bringing Cheryl’s post to my attention!

Stay agile my friends,

Bob.

References

  • Great post by Martin Fowler, Jason Yip and Thoughtworks. I also “borrowed” the photo from this post as well. Thank you guys!  http://martinfowler.com/articles/itsNotJustStandingUp.html
  • See my facilitation post here for a discussion of the Fist-of-Five, among a few other techniques.
  • Here’s another blog post I wrote not too long ago about who should be “talking” at the stand-up.

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