What’s with the stand-up meetings?

Posted on April 7, 2011


The most widely adopted Agile practice is by far the Daily Stand-up Meeting (aka Daily Scrum).  There is good reason for this practice being so popular.  It is extremely easy to implement and provides an immediate return.  Even distributed teams, that cannot stand in a circle together, can benefit from employing daily stand-ups.

This quick meeting is meant to help teams self-organize and self-manage by driving transparency into their day-to-day activities.  This is the team members’ opportunity to show their team that they have a plan for the day.  Each team member should stand in front of their team and make a commitment to completing something.  They should listen to the plans being made and ensure that collectively the team meets the commitments they have made for that day.  This is a great opportunity for team members to support one another and to employ positive peer pressure to create a plan and commitment.

The basic guidelines for this meeting include:

  • all team members must attend, but anyone is allowed to attend
  • only team members can speak
  • attendees stand in a circle facing one another
  • a fifteen minute time-box
  • a consistent daily meeting time
  • and three simple questions that must be answered by each attendee
    • what did you accomplish yesterday?
    • what will you accomplish today?
    • are there any impediments blocking your progress?

These guidelines act as a base.  These things are very easy to implement.  Many teams create their own guidelines for their daily stand-up, building upon the core components above.  I definitely encourage adapting your daily stand-up to meet your team’s specific needs.  This adaptation should be done as a team.  This allows the team to own the process, which is a necessity for self-managed, self-organizing teams.

One of the flaws of the daily stand-up, is the same as its greatest strength; the ease of implementation.  Many teams misinterpret this simple meeting as a status meeting, with a manager or project manager questioning each team member and writing down their status.  Others, skip the difficult part of the stand-up, the plan and commitment, and the meeting becomes a quick, useless, circle of one-liners.  The most amusing misuse of a DAILY stand-up, is to do it three days a week.  Each of these blunders are easy to fall into, so be sure to maintain the core of the meeting until the team gains a deep understanding of the meeting and its proper use.

Further Reading