Daily meetings can really be a drag. Their main purpose is improving the collaboration and communication between the team members. The truth is that most people hate them, even though they could really make a difference when done right. So what is the magic behind these meetings that could really bring only benefits to your team and a company as a whole?

What daily meetings are and what they are not

Daily stand-up meetings are time-boxed events that allow the team to synchronize activities and create a plan for the upcoming day. If well-run, they provide significant value to the team. That makes it quite popular among many teams in agile software development.

It is not suppose to be a meeting where technical issues are discussed, nor a planning meeting where new project requirements are discussed. You should organize separate meetings for those kinds of issues.  

Things to avoid

Daily meetings should be held in the first half and hour of the day. They should last not more than 15 minutes and be used only for the each team member’s short update. Make sure not to delay communication until the next daily meeting. Try not to drop team communication in favor of the daily meeting. Talk to someone when you have to.

There are also some people that will arrive late to work when the meeting had already started or even after the meeting has ended. Don’t wait for anyone. Just start the meeting.

The setup

Daily meetings should be held at the same time every day. This is usually in the morning, at the first half and hour after the business day begins. Of course, it’s up to the team to decide which time and place best suits everyone’s daily schedules.

Keep a time-box of 15 minutes. The purpose of the stand-up is to give an idea of where the team is. So 15 minutes is OK. Smaller teams may even need less than that. Standing up helps keeping the meeting short.

Keep it Short and Simple

The daily meeting is not used as a problem-solving or issue resolution meeting. Issues that are raised are taken offline and usually dealt with by the relevant subgroup immediately after the meeting. They are designed to last 15 minutes or less on daily basis and focus on progress and what people are actually doing that day. It encourages the team accountability to each other and the project plan. The meeting setup is such that everyone stands up in a circle (if in the same place) or in front of their computers for a remote team. Each person takes turns answering three basic questions:

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What will you do today?
  3. Is there anything blocking your progress?

If detailed discussions come up (or to adapt, or re-plan, the rest of the project work), it is a good practice to take them separately immediately after the meeting.

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