10 tips to improve your Agile daily stand-ups

large daily stand up

The text books will tell you to ask each attendee at the stand-up three questions – what did you do yesterday, what are you doing today and what are your impediments? Although this is a great format to get you started with Agile ways of working it is by no means the best approach to daily stand-ups. If you want to inject pace, focus and energy into your daily stand-ups then it’s time to switch your format to a more Kanban style daily stand-up.

Here are ten things you can do differently to improve your daily stand-up:

  1. Walk the wall from right to left. Focus on the work, not each other. That is, starting at your right most column on the wall and working left. For each card on the wall ask the question “how can we get this card moved to the right?”. Too many teams treat the daily stand-up as a status update. Instead, the daily stand-up should be about problem solving. If you have less work in progress then this should make for a slick stand-up.
  2. Look right or down before looking left. That is, when you’ve completed a card on the wall, first look right or in your current column to see if you can help anyone else finish their work. If you’ve exhausted all avenues to help finish work, only then should you look left to start more work.
  3. Gather in close around the card wall. Don’t be shy. If you can’t see the detail on the cards then you’re too far away. Get in close and jostle for position if needed.
  4. Come prepared. Make sure you’ve updated the card wall before the daily stand-up, not during.
  5. Focus on unblocking blocked work. Summon the necessary people required to unblock a card to the daily stand-up so they can see the impact they’re having on the team.
  6. Blockers with unblock ETA. If a blocker has an ETA date for unblocking (days or weeks) in the future, do you really need to have a repeat discussion about the blocker everyday?
  7. Use green arrows to show movement. When someone in the team moves a card on the wall, stick a green arrow icon on it. As the day goes on, more and more arrows should appear on the card wall. Then, at the daily stand-up you will see a nice clear summary of movement over the previous day. At the end of the daily stand-up “reset” the card wall be removing all the green arrows. External stakeholders to the team particularly like this feature as it gives them real feel of progress.
  8. Card wall admin. At the end of the daily stand-up, the person who facilitated it is responsible for tidying up the wall, i.e. straighten the cards, redraw any faded lines, remove the green arrows, and sync the physical card wall with the electronic card wall.
  9. Review Goals. Whatever goals you have in place, it’s really important to keep these at the forefront of everyones mind.
  10. Get each team member to take a turn facilitating the daily stand-up. This stops any one person dominating the stand-up. Rotate daily.

Once you’ve made the switch to Kanban style daily stand-ups you’ll instantly see the benefits and value in this alternative approach and never look back.

About Ian Carroll

Ian is a consultant, coach, trainer and speaker on all topics related to Lean, Kanban and Agile software development.

Connect with Ian at the following

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