Monday, September 7, 2015

Stand Up Meeting: Patterns And AntiPatterns

Don’t know what task or feature your peers are doing right now? Whether it happens that you are fighting a complex task whereas your neighbor has already found the solution? Can’t find the time to share your achievements? Don’t know when to bother other programmers to ask for a help?

Issues can be found during stand-up meetings so called briefings or daily scrums, which are strongly recommended by gurus of Scrum and eXtream Programming. Everybody knows about morning briefs but IT sphere has got some peculiarities.

What is stand-up meeting?

This is the simplest and the most effective practice you can implement in your company, moreover it is the least expensive way. A meeting is held by whole team daily. Each member answers three simple questions:

  • What did I accomplish yesterday? — Pride for results
  • What will I do today? — Promise to a team
  • What obstacles are impeding my progress? — Ask for a help

Patterns and AntiPatterns

Applying standups for more than eight years in different teams, companies and countries I noticed some patterns and antipatters. If you know and implement them correctly your meetings will be effective. Otherwise you will have to enjoy boring faces of your team members.

Useful practices

Following list is very helpful if you want to use standups day by day:

  1. Make standups in the morning. It makes a good vision for the day.
  2. You need one passionate peer who will call others to standup. One time I saw a real big gong on the wall, Scrum Master beat the gong to call a team for the morning scrum.
  3. To avoid uncomfortable pauses I can recommend some ways. One of them is a speaker gets a pen or a marker then he or she gives it to a random person until all people participate. It is fun and a communicative practice.
  4. A whole team stand together, no excuses.
  5. Find people who can help you with a task.
  6. Find a partner for a pair programming.
  7. When somebody explains a problem the team are trying to find a way to help.
  8. Prepare for standups. Find out yesterday's commits, closed tickets etc.
  9. You will see everybody if stay in a circle.
  10. During standups stay in front of a current situation of the project. For example, if you use Kanban you should stay close to the kanban board and a cumulative diagram etc.
  11. Break up long monologue or conversations that don’t relate to the topic. Remember, you have a limited timebox for this practice.
  12. Managers, analytic or stakeholders may join a standup but without voting right.
  13. Agree the time of standups and hold them at the same time. Don’t wait latecomers. If somebody comes late he or she has to buy cookies for everybody.
  14. Ask help, don’t be shy. You can save a great tone of hours just asking questions.
  15. Share your achievement, receive praise, it is an important act for team motivation.
  16. Plan your day, discuss problems and obstacles.
  17. Be careful with balance between talk and listening.
  18. Take it easy and enjoy yourself :)


This practice looks very simple but a small mistake can demotivate your colleges. Take into consideration:

  1. Be short.
  2. The perfect time to answer 3 questions is 15 minutes for a team of 10 people. I have seen a standup with up to 40 people lasting just for 30 minutes.
  3. I can suggest a small trick: keep standing all the meeting. Standing on your feet fags out so people will be quick.
  4. Don’t discuss technical details.
  5. Cut short private talks.
  6. Have meetings regularly as standups are not just pastime but the work.
  7. Don’t let a manager write team’s promises given on standups. Because in the end of the day this foxy guy can check if you have accomplished your morning plan. It will kill a team motivation.
  8. Don’t turn standups into a formal report.

Learn more:

It's Not Just Standing Up: Patterns of Daily Stand-up Meetings

AgileGuru: Daily Scrum Meeting

10 Reasons We Have Daily Stand Up Meetings

InfoQ: What Makes a Good Stand Up Meeting?

Are daily stand-ups necessary?

7 Mistakes During the Daily Stand-up Meeting

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