WIN #002: Quickly Improve Daily Meetings

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Here are four ideas to improve your daily meetings immediately:

#1 Does it feel like your daily meetings are pointless and a waste of time?

Chances are that they have turned into useless daily status updates.

You can easily fix that using the following approach:

Daily meetings (also called Daily standups or Daily Scrums) are, in fact, Daily Replanning Meetings.
They are meant as a device for your team to replan your work for the day, using inputs from the previous one:

  • What did we (the team) want to achieve yesterday, and did we do it?
  • Did anything go wrong with the plan we had yesterday, and what was it?
  • What did we (the team) learn yesterday?

Answers to those questions will clearly define your current position. Knowing your current standpoint allows you to make an explicit plan for today, answering the following questions:

  • What is the single most important thing we (the team) want to achieve today (until the next daily meeting)?
  • How exactly are we going to do it, i.e., who will do exactly what, with whom, and how?
  • What is the next most important thing we (the team) want to achieve? Do we have the capacity to do it today? If you do, repeat the previous two steps with that most important thing in mind.
  • Do we have any spare time today for experimentation or housekeeping? If so, what will we do in that spare time, who will do it, and how will it be done?

Nobody actually needs a status update in the team’s daily meeting. Suggesting otherwise smells of dysfunction, so you should address it.

Working together as a team all the time removes any need for reiterating the actions taken the previous day.

It is beneficial, however, to revisit the daily goal – has it been achieved, and if not, why?

The daily meeting is a huddle for the team to quickly and efficiently come up with an explicit, smallest meaningful action plan – pretty much like sports teams do before the start of their next action.

Stop wasting your time providing comprehensive and useless daily status reports.

Start making useful and powerful daily plans!

#2 Do your daily meetings last forever?

Daily meetings serve as short huddles for the team to quickly define the work plan for the day.

They are not the place for:

  • doing extensive tech discussions,
  • searching for solutions,
  • doing code reviews,
  • doing analysis,
  • providing comprehensive status updates,
  • having a chit-chat catching up on personal lives.

You could and should do all of the above.

Just don’t do it not in the daily meeting.

Use the daily meeting to plan for those activities, end the meeting after you do that, and move on.

#3 Are your teammates disengaged during daily meetings?

Do they wait for their turn to provide status and not pay much attention otherwise?

Try this quick hack to increase engagement:

Daily meetings are short huddles for the team to plan the work for the day. It means that everybody on the team is aware of the plan, and agrees with it.

At the end of each daily meeting do a quick recap of the plan – what everyone is doing.

The important part is that you pick the teammate who will do the recap, each time at random.

Other dysfunctions will surface by doing this, so you can address them as well.

#4 Do tasks tend to “get stuck” in progress for too long?

Do less important tasks often get done faster than others, which have already been in progress?

Daily meetings can help, and here is how:

Daily meetings (a.k.a. Daily Standups or Daily Scrums) are, in fact, Daily Replanning Meetings.

Use them to replan the work daily!

Regardless of the individual assignee, the task belongs to the team, not that particular teammate. The assignee is merely delegated by the team to tend to the task – in the name of the team.

If the task gets stuck at any time, it ceases to be an individual assignment. It goes back to the entire team’s attention.

A task is stuck if less important tasks, which got in progress later, are done sooner. It does not have to be blocked. The task is simply not getting done!

Use daily replanning meetings to devise a precise action plan on how to get stuck items done.

Regardless of the assignee, it is now the time to swarm on the issue – do it together as a team. There are, most likely, no more important issues in progress at the time, so it is the most pressing issue for the whole team!

Use daily replanning meetings to focus on your team’s goals.

Focus on your team’s goals. Don’t focus on individual task assignments.

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