How to enhance communication with daily standup in your business and how to do them right

Daily stand ups have come out of the IT world and the agile school of thought and spilt over into the rest of the business world it seems. Most everyone we hear from is either curious about them, wanting to try them, or is doing some version of them with varying success.

We have been using daily stand ups for many years (yes we did have the advantage of being in the IT industry already and our founder has seen the practice being born and adopted). Daily stand ups can be very useful in aligning people and keeping them on the same page, however, there are a few ways they can either go wrong or become ineffective.

Here are the 5 main ways daily standups don’t work for people and how to tweak and change them to fix that.

They are not daily

Yes, that’s not a joke, we occasionally talk to newly onboarded users on Thanexa who will say things like ‘your stand up view is so useful, we are using it to do stand ups daily now, unlike in the past where we were lucky to have twice a week’. Part of the issue here is that the team was not using the right too, and instead relied on admin people to go adjust things for the rest of the team to do standup. Subsequently, they didn’t do them often enough and therefore nobody trusted their content much as they were not complete, nor up to date.

They involve too many people for too long

Stand ups even in agile, are not designed for a team of 25, they are designed for small (and ehm agile) teams to get together and have an informal conversation about where they are up to, what help they need to progress their work and what they are going to have done next. When you cram 25 people in a room (yes we have seen that happen) and expect everyone to participate you are now running into meetings that take an hour or more, not good.

They are over-documented

We have seen organisations that actually minute the daily stand ups. Let us tell you from experience, you don’t need that. There is no reason to be recording meeting minutes and next actions for those meetings. The actions should be already available and visible to everyone. This is not the time to create new work, this is the time to make sure things are moving. Focus on velocity (a fancy way of saying getting things done) instead of creative brainstorming, worse project management of the work, generating new actions, and adjusting project plans.

Insist on running them in real-time

This sounds like a good idea, and why wouldn’t you want to have everyone there and present at the same time as you do your daily standup. Especially if you were all in the same office, working the same hours, you would! Too bad though that real life is not as consistent. In reality, teams are distributed across space and time, and insisting on having everyone attend those live means that you now have people at the end of their workday doing standup with people at the start of their day. We have even seen organisations who had people dial in at 9 pm their time, to a group call to do a daily standup because most of their staff was available then - you can imagine if you were the lady that had to go through a full day’s work and then dial in again at 9 pm just to tell people what you’ll do and what you did. Not productive.

Build the daily standup to facilitate the team, not the management

Before all managers out there get upset about this, hear us out. We are not saying don’t take management into account, and in fact, daily stand ups are great management tools. Remember though that the primary reason you are doing them, is to help the team, your individual contributors talk about their work, commit to the upcoming work and surface any issues that the rest of you should be leaning in to help fix as early as possible so they don’t affect your project outcomes.

In our experience, there is one more magic ingredient that makes daily stand ups shine and be a very useful tool in your arsenal. And that is having the right software to support them. Here we use Thanexa which has a dedicated standup view.
Thanexa standup view
That view updates itself automatically and in real-time. This means that we don’t need to be shuffling cards around manually, we don’t need to be in the same room at the same time, and we can always have instant access to not only what was done but what is overdue, what’s coming up and what is being worked on.

Make your daily standups work for you and your team with Thanexa

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