Eric Smith

Eric Smith is a Senior Project Manager at Rodeo Apps, an app development company in Los Angel.

6 Ways to Master the Daily Stand-Up Meetings

As a Project Manager, one of the most important things that I’ve learned over the years is that Daily Stand-Ups are an effective tool that can solve a particular problem.
For the specific cases, where the team doesn’t communicate effectively on a daily basis, then the standup gives you, the manager, a place where you can get and keep your developers on the same page.
When everybody already knows what’s going on, then the standup loses a lot of its meaning. Generally, it cuts down to “anybody blocked or need anything they don’t have? Is everybody good to go today? Okay, let’s make this happen.” This is how we do it at Rodeo Apps.
However, it goes the other way for a lot of companies, turning into a Kafkaesque version of Show and Tell. If you’re from one of these organizations, where standups are not so productive anymore, this blog is for you. Let’s discuss how you can master the standups in six easy steps.
Over the years, I’ve observed that most of the people who end up in technical management aren’t professionally trained in leadership or management. This leads to a lot of management-by-bestseller, cargo-cult agile, and the sort of dystopian teams that grind the minds of otherwise talented app developers into useless pulp.
Well, it is not that these managers are bad or incompetent or bad-intentioned, it is just that they never got any solid guidance on how to lead, manage and grow a team. Don’t worry, this blog is here to help!
For software teams, a stand-up is like a sports team’s huddle.
We adhere to three basic questions when it comes to conducting a stand-up meeting:
What did I work on yesterday?What am I working on today?What issues are blocking me?
These daily practices of sharing the individual’s success and failures keep everyone energized about the team’s contribution as a whole to organizations.

Stand-ups at Rodeo Apps

For obvious reasons, stand-ups are not meant to be one-size-fits-all meetings. Every team have their own process and goals to conduct stand-ups. Here’s are three ways through which we’ve mastered stand-ups for us. And I’m sure, you can too.

#1. Keep Check on Time

A couple of teams at Rodeo Apps keep checking on the time informally to keep their stand-ups high on efficiency. Also, they keep on rotating this duty so that everyone is accountable and equally invested. You should limit the duration up to 15-mins maximum. You can work upon this further to make shorter stand-ups as possible.

#2. Play Catch

The QA team at one of a famous startup in Los Angeles tosses a handball between the team members so that everyone is awake and engaged. The rule is, you can’t pass the ball to someone next to you or someone who has already tosses.
Hence, no zoning out! We tried something similar with the beachball and believe me, it is not only fun, but a great way to keep everyone engaged.

#3. Choose a Common Time

Los of our team members are not early risers. Hence, our stand-ups happen around 11 am. But what if your team isn’t placed in the same location? Choose a time which is convenient for everybody.
Well, our design team is present between Los Angeles and London. Their stand-ups are at 6 pm London time. Sure, evenings stand-ups are a bit unconventional, but it’s definitely a great way to keep in touch with your colleagues who are on the other side of the planet.

#4. Signal the End

If you’re responsible for starting the meeting, you should be for ending the same. When the last person has finished explaining and there’s a gradual realization that it’s time to disperse, believe me, it is not energizing. So, you have the opportunity to change this! Craft your signature phrase to sign-off and fuel the teammates to get the ball rolling.

#5. Put Discovered Problems Aside

Once you’ve discovered the problems, put them aside. They can be solved by following up the specific person once the stand-up is over. Remember that the meeting is for less than 15-mins and hence, solving the problem at a moment won’t be a good idea.

#6. Retrospect on Time

Stand-ups are widely conducted and have become an integral part of the agile culture. However, one major aspect is a lot of these teams doesn't bring the effectiveness of the stand-ups in the picture. Some of our teams meet daily while some teams meet on alternate days.
Make sure that you and your team are working on how to make these stand-ups more productive. If your team isn't finding value in doing this, find why! If not, your teammates might perceive it as time waste and eventually stop attending.
Stand-ups are like the house of cards, once a single person stops attending, the rest of the crowd disintegrates. Keep your eye on the red flags and re-evaluate the approaches you follow from time to time. Believe me, they are worth the investment!
As a Project Manager, stand-ups is like a sacred ritual I give my 100 per cent to. If you follow any other methods and have proven effective, please get in touch on Twitter @Eric_Smith09, I’d love to talk!

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