Stand Up for Standups


Standup, daily scrum, roll-call, team huddle … no matter your preferred terminology, these meetings are a fantastic way of encouraging teams to increase their transparency. Though it can take on different names and forms, the idea behind a standup is to encourage product teams to connect, every single day, and provide succinct updates on their projects.

Standups as agile ceremonies

With agile methodologies rapidly making their mark on the business industry, there are best practice “ceremonies” that are followed to keep projects on track. The standup ceremony is where I get to have humanizing connections with my teammates every day.

The name “standup” comes from the idea that if you encourage people to stand, rather than sit, it is more likely that they will keep the discussions brief and relevant.

Standups are meant to be five to fifteen minute time-boxed meetings, ideally each morning, with all teammates on the project present to help set the context for the day’s tasks and migrate any blockers from the get-go. Do not underestimate the importance of this daily connection! These meetings should occur at the same time, same place, each day to foster consistency and routine among the team. People like routines, so give the people what they want! The data shows that stable agile teams are 60% more productive, which is what you want when you’re investing the big bucks into software that could make or break your business. 


Time for some social interaction

The standup is the primary time for some good solid social interaction with team members throughout a sprint cycle. Make sure that each person is talking and making eye contact with other team members, not just the person leading the standup. Laptops and phones can be a distraction, so set some ground rules that create solid structure.

In these daily meetings, each teammate is asked to contribute the following:

  • What did you work on yesterday?
    (Did you accomplish everything mentioned in yesterday’s standup?)
  • What will you work on today?
    (Bonus points for referencing specific ticket numbers or other task tracking information - another way to keep everyone in the loop)
  • Do you have any blockers?
    (Is there anything keeping you from getting your tasks completed, or anything that could potentially block you in the future that the ScrumMaster or Product Owner could alleviate?)
  • Parking lot items
    (Is there something that needs discussion outside of the standup? Flag this for discussion following the standup to avoid encroaching on working time of other team members.)

Why is a standup so effective?

The days of wondering where tasks stand, hoping everyone is aligned in their day-to-day work, and being completely siloed in your own responsibilities are long gone. These silos have been replaced by communicative, cross-functional teams. These collaborative and transparent teams are inherently successful teams, and the daily standup is one of the first steps to becoming all-stars!

As one of the most important meetings to occur during your sprint, the project team needs to work together to get the standup right. It seems deceivingly easy to execute, but I guarantee that hundreds of agile teams that held a standup this morning did not receive the true benefits of the meeting. All members must be present (mind and body), actively listen, and critically think about each update. Too many times team members get wrapped up in their own update that they forget to listen to others—keeping to their silo. But don’t be discouraged! I wholeheartedly believe your team will get the hang of it.

Try it on your next project

I know what you’re thinking, “but what if my project isn’t a technical product?” Let me tell you, the standup principle does not only apply to technology, but to any team looking to increase productivity and the quality of a product or experience. Become an advocate for daily standups in your organization, or work with Mindgrub to see our teams work their magic.

Stand up for standups!