If you work as part of a team, ask yourself how often you all get together to discuss what each of you are working on. Is it regularly? Sporadically? Never? If the answer is anything other than ‘regularly’ you are missing out on one of the most simple and effective techniques to improve your business efficiency: the daily standup.
Everyday at GGA we have a daily 15 minute team meeting, or standup. The standup is an important part of the agile development process but can easily be adapted into everyday business processes. This happens every morning at 10am WITHOUT FAIL and involves the whole team standing up (this is important — no slouchers allowed!) to discuss the previous days work and what’s in store for that day.
To successfully run ongoing daily standups you’ll need a dedicated person to chair each session (as Project Manager, I run ours) who is responsible for making sure everyone who should be attending is ready and listening, and each session only lasts as long as agreed (ours are a strict 15 minutes but this depends on the size of your team).
The standup lead then asks each member of the team the following 3 key questions:
1) What did you work on yesterday? 2) What are you working on today? 3) Are there any blocks/problems stopping you from doing your work?
Thats it. No extraneous conversations or chit-chat. Simply get each person to answer these 3 key questions as concisely as possible and get input from the rest of your team when needed. Suddenly everyone will know what their key goals and achievements are and who’s doing what to make it happen.It’s great for team moral.
That’s an instant step to workplace happiness right there!
Here’s some key things to remember when running standups:
1) Appoint someone to chair each session (preferably the same person all the time for consistencies sake).
2)Have your standups at the exact same time, same place everyday. Set a reminder alert or alarm to remind everyone.
3)Standup (no sitting allowed) around your project board/software, laptop, TV or whatever systems you use to visualise your workflow.
4)Make sure everyone is ‘in the room’, i.e. everyone is 100% focused on the standup (remember it’s the most important meeting of the day).
5) Ask the 3 key questions and make sure each team member answers quickly and concisely.
6) Make sure they only last as long as planned. 15 minutes is ideal for a smallish team. Again, set an alarm if needed. Don’t let it run over. If you haven’t finished in that time… tough!
Common problems we’ve faced with the standup:
1) A team can easily get into in-depth conversations when discussing their work or particular intricacies of a project. A standup isn’t the time or place for these discussions and they should take place afterwards.
2) It’s easy to let people talk for too long, which will in turn make the standup overrun. It’s the job of the Chairperson to make sure everything is running on time so everyone gets their turn.
3) Lack of concentration from people who aren’t speaking is a common problem. Again, it is up to the Chairperson to pull-rank and make sure everyone is focused for the full 15 minutes (or whatever your deadline is).
4) The standup should always go ahead regardless if the full team is present or not. In the past we’ve had people join us via Skype or on speakerphone! If someone simply can’t make it then carry on regardless, even if its the Chairperson!
Why not give standups a go for a month (remember it takes 21 days to form a habit) and see how they can help improve your team’s efficiency and, ultimately, your business’s profitability.