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Six ways to make Daily Stand-Ups more effective

Daily scrum or also popularly known as Daily Stand-up is a cardinal practice employed by scrum teams to inspect their work and make adjustments every day. Although the daily scrum may seem like a simple meeting to conduct at the outset, it can quickly turn into a burdensome activity that team members feel compelled to attend because management wants them to follow scrum.

With leaders and team members failing to understand the essence of this meeting or conveniently forgetting the real purpose of daily stand up, many agile teams have erroneously turned the daily stand up into a meeting merely used for oral progress reporting. However, it's purpose extends far beyond the archetype progress reports extensively used in a pre agile world. One of the outcomes that the daily stand up assists agile teams in achieving is working with greater efficiency that further leads to an accelerated pace of value delivery to their customers.

Hence, scrum masters should ensure that daily stand-ups don't become drab. Here are six things you can do to make your daily standups more effective.

1. Let the team members be clear on the daily scrum's purpose and why they should be attending it.

The daily scrum is intended to prepare the team for the day's collaboration towards achieving the sprint goal, help the team sense whether they will meet the sprint goal and discover impediments that are diminishing their velocity. The daily scrum isn't about task updates; tickets closed, micro-management by managers or about status reporting.

If you still find team members complaining that the meeting is a waste of time, walk them through the benefits of the meeting, and if still unconvinced, discuss with the team members how they think the meeting can be structured to derive more significant gains.

2. Keep the stand-ups at the same place and at the same time

Whatever schedule you choose for your stand up whether it's daily, alternate days or weekly, ensure it's held at the same place and at the same time. Start at the same time, and don't wait to start the meeting for people walking it late. Hold your stand-up meetings at such times that team members can focus on the meeting and not derailed by other tasks.

3. Make people stick to the point

During the Daily Scrum, everyone is supposed to answer three questions:

¨ What did you accomplish since the last Daily Meeting?

¨ What are you working on until the next Daily Meeting?

¨ What is getting in your way or keeping you from doing your job?

Ask people only answer these three questions and stick to the point. Stop yourself and even others from providing solutions to the impediments raised by team members during the meeting. The team members often meet immediately after the Daily Scrum for detailed discussions, or to adapt, or replan, the rest of the Sprint's work.

4. Let people stand for the meeting

It's probably a good idea to let people stand during the meeting and not sit. It reduces rambling and keeps everyone focused. You can consider holding the meeting without chairs or keeping them away from the space where you hold the meeting. Without the comfort of a chair, people would stick to the point, and the meeting won't get extended unnecessarily.

5. Ask people to come prepared for the meeting or build in some prep time for the meeting

You cannot afford people walking in unprepared into a meeting. It would result in people scrambling for answers while in the meeting, which can again slow down the meeting. You can also build-in some prep time before the meeting so that people can consolidate and structure what they want to say during the meeting. This can make a world of difference to your meeting.

6. Note down the action items that emerge from the meeting and follow it up.

Make someone responsible for taking notes of action items that emerge from the meeting and make sure someone gets assigned as the owner of the action item(s). Set a deadline for by when the item needs to be actioned upon and closed. No one wants to see the impediments come up in the stand up again and again, so there is value is closing them as soon as possible.

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