Daily standups are perhaps the most well-known of all agile meetings. They help create the foundation for strong, autonomous teams that can respond quickly to changing business requirements.
There are several ways to define daily standups or DSUs, but they all share the following four elements:
- The daily standup is a focused meeting
- It’s held at the same time every day
- It usually lasts for about 15 minutes
- All team members must attend the meeting
Most daily standups revolve around these three famous scrum questions:
- What has been done yesterday or since the last daily meeting?
- What will you do today?
- Is there something blocking your progress?
However, there are other interesting formats to test with your team, such as “Walk the Board” technique, which originated from Kanban. This is useful for both on-site and remote teams.
In the “Walk the Board” technique, the development team runs daily standups by walking through each work item displayed on the product management board. For online meetings, a team member shares the board; then all other team members can see the (same) big picture while walking through the tasks that should converge for the sprint goal.
Example of Kanban in Jira
Although daily standups are critical for alignment, they can quickly spiral into unproductive meetings if left unchecked. Since standups are run by self-organizing teams, it’s the responsibility of all participants to ensure their success.
6 Signs Your DSUs Aren’t Working
Whether you are a product owner, product manager, or scrum master, it’s essential to understand that the primary goal of standups is to help the development team. Here are six signs that your standups aren’t working for your development team:
1. The daily standup becomes a “status report” for the scrum master.
That’s a likely anti-pattern that brings us back to legacy management methods and not Agile. The development team should take advantage of the standup to adjust the course to reach the sprint or iteration goal. It’s not meant to be a status check for scrum masters. Status updates belong in project management tools, not meetings.
2. When it’s moving outside of the three Scrum questions or becoming a technical discussion.
Daily standups must be focused meetings and should not be the only touchpoint for the team. Remember that each team member participates in standups; therefore, each minute is precious. Standups that consistently linger longer than 15 minutes can be extremely costly to the company. If certain topics require further discussion, they should be explored in separate meetings and follow-up conversations.
3. The daily standup does not occur daily and lasts longer than 15 minutes.
If standups aren’t occurring daily, they’ll lose their essence, i.e., aligning the team on project priorities. Similarly, if they always last longer than 15 minutes, it’s a sign that the group needs to have standalone conversations on specific blockers.
4. The daily standup never identifies impediments or the team doesn’t follow up on issues/impediments.
This is another sign of a lack of agile maturity. Standups aren’t status update meetings. They need to focus on identifying blockers and deciding steps to address them. The team should follow up on issues identified in standups and take ownership for driving improvements.
5. The team doesn’t adjust the plan to meet sprint goals.
This is one of the major mistakes because that’s the standup’s main objective. Don’t wait until it’s too late to turn the ship around and save your sprint. A good exercise is to always keep it on your radar: make the sprint goal always clear and visible to the team.
6. Only one person leads the discussion
Scrum teams are supposed to self organize. A visible sign of a self-organizing teams is that there is no single owner of standups. It’s a red flag if your standups always have one person leading the discussion and taking charge of conversations.
DSU Bots for Distributed Teams
Distributed product teams based across multiple time zones are getting more common, making it harder to have real-time daily standups. That’s where DSU bots can help. DSU bots can integrate with your collaboration tool (such as Slack) and allow each team member to respond to standup questions asynchronously.
DSU bots consolidate responses from the product team and share the summary with everyone on the team. This helps keep track of insights from each standup and aligns team members across multiple time zones.
The daily standup is a development team meeting, not a status report session. Showing up on time is a good start, but don’t stop there. Standups are not scrum master shows, and it’s each team member’s responsibility to ensure their success.
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