Focus your daily stand-up meeting on work and not on people

This time I am going to write about a daily stand-up meeting technique I find quite useful.

When I talk to people in Scrum teams they always use this 3 points a person should answer in the daily standup meeting:

  1. What did I accomplish yesterday?
  2. What will I do today?
  3. What obstacles are impeding my progress?

I do not completely disagree with these 3 points. However there are a few things I would like to mention here.

Firstly the whole Agile and Scrum approach focuses on people working together in teams. So why do the three questions focus on a single person?

I have seen teams practicing good stand-up meetings. Everyone was answering the three questions thoroughly. The answers did exactly reflect what people were working on. For instance “Yesterday I was in a meeting for xy” where xy is absolutely not related to the project. So the information is not useful for the other team members regarding the project. On the other side it is useful because people are not 100% dedicated to the project and have to do a lot of other work.

Another problem I see with these 3 questions is that they enforce some kind of micromanagement. Everyone talks about his/her work but not in context to what the whole team is working on.

I used to work on a Scrum team where we made a transformation to Kanban. Our stand-up meetings focused more and more on the tasks on the board and not necessarily on people. The questions we tried to answer were:

  • What does it take to move a card to the next column? E.g. what needs to be done to move a card from test to done or from development to code review.
  • If a card was in a certain column for more than 3 days we tried to answer why it was stuck?
  • If there was a problem moving a card we tried to find another person that could possibly help.

Our stand-ups focused on finishing work rather than starting new work. We started  talking about the test column and made our way back to development. Don’t worry if it takes longer  to talk about cards on the right hand side of the board. They potentially have more value when they are close to be finished.