Stand-up meetings

Over the last couple years, agile development methods have been picked up by more and more companies. Many of the ideas and concepts which were created out of the principles outlined by the agile manifesto have proven useful and can be used not only in agile development but in day-to-day practice independent of the business’ working area.

One of those methods adopted by many organizations worldwide is “standup meetings”. The basic idea: a meeting is being held with all participants standing, not sitting down. As long as some constraints are fulfilled, meetings become more effective. They take less time and get results faster. There’s even special furniture which can be used to hold such meetings.

Of course, there are misguided approaches to stand-up meetings as well – including, but not limited to, managers using stand-up meetings to rant or generally the lack of moderation resulting in meetings taking too long or being hijacked by off-topic discussions.

In this regard, agile methodology experts are quite similar to open source advocates: when agile methods fail – just like when open source projects are difficult to use, install or maintain – the answers are often arrogant and narrow-minded, boiling down to a simple “you are doing it wrong”. Admittingly, there are many ways to do stand-up meetings the wrong way. Specifically, it should not be expected that stand-up meetings are the silver bullet to “meeting-mania”.

Not every shoe fits all sizes

As a matter of fact, it most likely is a good idea to keep stand-ups to a limited set of meetups. For instance, use it only for daily status meetings.

Combining the concept of stand-up meetings with other methods like meeting facilitation and having a well-defined and clear agenda may visibly increase meeting productivity.

For example, stick to stating your current status, current problems and what the plan for today is. The general idea after all, is not to limit interaction, but to speed up the meeting and leave out all the unnecessary fuss. If there is more to talk about or something that needs a follow-up, that is perfectly alright. Just meet up in two or three person groups afterwards or keep it to a separate water-cooler conversation. There are plenty of good suggestions one can try out.

Stand up meetings have a clear meaning; they are not going to resolve the big issues but they are here to inform. There is no use to call in stand-up meetings with 20 stakeholders and try to force a resolution to an issue that’s been bugging a project for several months. Especially not if is a political issue. The motto is – keep it simple!

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.