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AGILE EXPLAINED: The Role of the STANDUP

Editors note on Stand-ups in Agile Methodology during Covid-19 :
The below article about Stand-ups still makes sense (even more!) in our current climate of working remotely.  If you are reading this article in the future and have returned to work, it all still applies.  However if you are currently working from home, or you are in a business that supports working from home more permanantly, stand-ups present a powerful way to connect with the team each morning.

 


What is a Stand-up?


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It’s not overstating it to say that one of the most fundamental parts of agile is the ‘standup’.

Stand-ups is one of the ceremonies of Agile Methodology.

Yet, if you have not been exposed to Agile, it’s a mystery.

There are still so many large organisations, who have not started to think about how they change the way they are working.   Antiquated old ways may be hold them back.  Or, it’s possible, teams may be waiting for the ‘old blood’ to move on.

One of the cornerstones of Agile is a Standup.  And standups can actually be introduced into teams and projects quite easily and without too much distruption.  However to make the most of standups, they need to be part of the other parts of agile development.

Standups are just one of the ‘cermonies’.  (watch a video here on our team discuss Ceremonies).

A Stand-up is generally a short, time-boxed session where all members of the squad stand together and set the context for the coming day’s work.

It’s called a stand-up because people don’t like standing up for long periods of time – the purpose of this is to keep the meeting brief.

Usually, only the squad attends but it should be open to stakeholders that are curious to know more about the project’s progress.

In Scrum, the Scrum Master is usually the facilitator of this ceremony, but the stand-up can successfully be facilitated by any team member.   (watch a video here on our team discussing the role of Scrum master).

The aim of the standup is to share a plan for the upcoming day so that the team can align their effort to achieve their goals by ensuring there is full coverage across the tasks without duplication.

It also enables teams to seek synergies in effort, such as meetings with stakeholders and share experiences and knowledge (“I did a similar thing last week, I will send you my template to save you some time”) as individuals break activity focus to a daily level.

It also includes enablers and blockers: blockers are particularly relevant.

The Scrum Master is responsible for facilitating the resolution of these. Stand-up is best done in front of a visual system (often a wall with in-flight work on it).

Key Components of STANDUPS

  1. Keep it short

If people are asked to stand it is because it should be short.

Do not let conversations develop for too long, capture it as an action and encourage team members to take it up offline. Everyone needs to have time to go through the questions.

  1. Team attendance

It is important that the whole team is attending. If one team member cannot attend make sure to capture their input beforehand and inform the team accordingly.

This is helpful for transparency reasons so that the whole team knows who is doing what. It helps to deal with impediments, the earlier they are reported the earlier it can be solved.

Make sure that you work with the team to develop “norms” around what to do if someone is not present.

For example, it may be agreed to start without them or go ahead on time regardless. Also, consider how technology can be used to assist if someone cannot be present. A phone call or video conference link can help.

  1. Start the day with a standup

The daily standup should inaugurate the working day so make sure to keep the squad energized!

Agree this time with the team. As people may be in different time zones or have differing start times, other times of day may suit better.

  1. Capture action items and track them

This may take several shapes. For instance it may be clear that an impediment will open the door to corrective actions, however, discussions among team members may as well. Possibilities to collaborate, but also tensions within the squad can be spotted during a daily standup so make sure to observe and take public (agreed with the squad) as well as more private (based on observations on the squad collaboration) actions.

Stand-ups is one of the ceremonies of Agile Methodology. Learn how to do this, and you are starting on your journey of Agile.


    You can watch all our AGILE EXPLAINED videos on You Tube

Download our free poster of REVERSE STANDUPS at our online resource centre.


FURTHER READING:

AGILE BASICS : THE ROLE OF SCRUM MASTER

 

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