Wednesday, January 12, 2011

5 Characteristics for an Effective Daily Stand Up

One practice of Scrum is a daily stand up meeting.  Why?  It serves as a status update of how the team is doing and allows each team member to feel an ownership and be accountable of the process. 

Characteristics of an Effective Stand Up

  1. Stand Up! - this keeps the meeting short and more engaging.  Harder to fall asleep when you're standing up!
  2. Consistent - same bat time, same bat channel, and be the top priority of every team member to attend.  Ideally, they occur in the mornings, right after everyone has arrived, to set the direction of the day.  If your team has a staggered work schedule, make it late enough in the day so people don't use the stand up to start their day.
  3. Quick - each person has a maximum of 60 seconds to answer the three golden questions:
    1. What did you do yesterday?
    2. What are you doing today?
    3. What roadblocks are you facing?
  4. Focused - the person facilitating the meeting (typically the Scrum Master), needs to keep team members focused and engaged on those three questions.
  5. "Meeting after the Meeting" - team members often need clarification from another team member(s), talk to them after the stand up, not during it, so as to not take up everyone else's time.


  • Use Skype for Remote team members - use Skype or some other voice communication tool.  I'm on a team with one remote person but the other team members are in the office.  The team stands up around a PC with a web cam, a desktop microphone, and desktop speakers, and Skype the remote member.
  • Make sure team members answer questions effectively.  "I did stuff yesterday and am doing more stuff today", doesn't count!  We have a ticketing system for each story.  The answers should give an adequate status of what the team member is working on.  For example, "I'm working on the Create functionality for creating a member and should be done with it tomorrow.  I have no blocks" is much more effective. 
  • Follow up the next day if something was expected to get done but did not and determine why not.
  • Foster an environment of supportive accountability.  Keep your team members accountable to what they say they are going to do but encourage team members to help each other when needed!

Additional Resources
Martin Fowler’s - It’s Not Just a Stand Up
Daily Scrum