Posted by: zyxo | June 9, 2009

Do it standing up !


A rugby union scrum
Image via Wikipedia

Years ago I had the pleasure of working in a team of excellent people who had the habit of organizing a meeting every evening as the last part of the daily work. It was a short, quick meeting where we went over what had been done today, what where the problems to be solved, what had to be done tomorrow. Very simple but very efficient.
After this project I went back to the old rhythm of weekly, biweekly, or monthly (depending on my bosses) long boring unproductive meetings and never experienced these short but extremely efficient daily meetings again.

Last day I stumbled upon this article of Martin Fowler on Daily stand-up meetings. He gives an extensive description of how to organize these meetings, and these meetings contain everything I missed from our daily evening meetings.
It is clear from the following that these daily “scrums” as there are also called, come from the software development world.

The wikipedia definition :

“A stand-up meeting (or simply stand-up) is a daily team meeting held to provide a status update to the team members. The ‘semi-real-time’ status allows participants to know about potential challenges as well as coordinate efforts to resolve difficult and/or time-consuming issues. It has particular value in Agile software development processes, such as Scrum, but can be utilized in any development methodology.

The meetings are usually time boxed to 5-15 minutes and are held standing up to remind people to keep the meeting short and to the point. Most people usually refer to this meeting as just the stand-up, although it is sometimes also referred to as the morning rollcall or the daily scrum.

The meeting is usually held at the same time and place every working day. All team members are expected to attend, but the meetings are not postponed if some of the team members are not present. One of the crucial features is that the meeting is intended to be a status update to other team members and not a status update to the management or other stakeholders. Team members take turns speaking, sometimes passing along a token to indicate the current person allowed to speak. Each member talks about his progress since the last stand-up, the anticipated work until the next stand-up and any impediments they foresee.

Team members may sometimes ask for short clarifications but the stand-up does not usually consist of full fledged discussions.”

Here is what others say about daily stand-up meetings :

– The daily stand up meeting is not another meeting to waste people’s time. It will replace many other meetings giving a net savings several times its own length. (extremeprogramming.org)

– There are plenty of other things to improve, but a daily stand-up meeting is low-hanging fruit. It is easy to implement and returns immediate gains. (codebetter.com)

– Done properly, the daily Scrum will achieve it’s own results, however handled incorrectly it can become a time wasting social hour (David’s comment on mitchlacy.com)

– Daily Scrum is a powerful tool, but as any other tool it is good, when you know what it’s useful for and have some experience in using it. … The important part is the goal, not the method. (agilesoftwaredevelopment.com)

– … how the team can synchronize their work and progress by meeting every day for a quick (15-20 min) status update and report on impediments (intranet.5amsolutions.com)

– Projects get to be late one day at a time, so it seems logical to have a daily team meeting to ensure you are all on track (www.scrumlabs.com)

– The daily stand-up meeting is a crucial aspect of keeping projects moving without interruption (www.reformingprojectmanagement.com)

– … the ability to reprioritize is one of the key strengths to a fully functioning Agile process, and having this opportunity every 24 hours is a significant benefit. (talk.bmc.com)

– There has been several occasions where the stand up meetings saved us from troubles (specially in rush hours) (Hasith comment on railspikes.com)

– the daily stand up is often the first tool to be implemented because its low cost and management can see value in it quickly. (webascender.com)

– How Microsoft’s p&p Teams do Daily Standup Meetings (ademiller.com)

I wonder if someone is using this type of meeting in another context than agile software development ?

Did you enjoy this post ? Then you might be interested in the following :
Top-10 lists on Knowledge management
Knowledge management = Change management
15 ways to use knowledge management software
The 10 most important failure factors of knowledge management.

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