Episode 66 – Standups


Released Sunday, November 16th, 2014.

Hosts: John Sextro


  • Life
  • Emailing listeners
    • Contacted 11 listeners, only heard back from Rob Park
  • Effective standups
    • Purpose
      • all about communication and commitment
      • not about status updates to management
    • Mechanics
      • everyone stands, everyone (unless you have medical condition)
      • congregate around your workboard
      • has to last 15 minutes or less, 1 minute per person is a long time
        • if you don’t believe time yourself and try to talk for 1 minute about a single topic
      • start at the same time every morning
        • its a good idea to choose a time that is 30 minutes to an hour after the person that arrives the latest to the office gets in.
        • this gives everyone a chance to get settled in and begin work
      • walk the board or not
        • if your team is focused on the right things they will always be talking to the board.
      • the order
        • going around in a predictable pattern puts people to sleep
        • mix it up to keep everyone on their toes
      • avoid questions
        • if you hear something that you’d like more information about, mention to that person that you’d like to find out more after standup
    • Communication and Commitment
      • it helps to prepare yourself before hand to refresh your memory and focus on your accomplishments
        • if I haven’t done this I often freeze in the moment and forget something key that I wanted to communicate
      • I like to answer the 3 questions in this order, yesterday, today, blockers
      • mention days off, etc.
      • focus on accomplishments, not activities
        • attending a meeting is an activity, not an accomplishment
        • mentioning that you attended a meeting is like saying I worked at my computer for 4 hours
        • what was accomplished via your attendance at the meeting
        • what was accomplished via the convening of the meeting
        • If you can think of an accomplishment from the meeting then you should really consider why you attended
        • In the future consider this before attending a meeting, “Tomorrow morning what will I say was accomplished?”  If you can’t come up with anything then skip the meeting.
        • Caveat: of course there are some meetings that you just can’t skip, like those you are required by management to attend.
          • Just don’t mention those.
      • what happens when I didn’t accomplish what I committed to accomplish
      • Making your commitment
        • Standing before the team to make a promise
        • I don’t want to let down the team
        • Example
          • “Today I will complete the story I pulled last evening”
          • “Today I will assist with the grooming of the backlog”
          • “Today I will help Amos complete the updates to our wiki page cataloging our client api”
          • “Today Craig and I are going to pair on the story Craig pulled while working with Lee yesterday afternoon.”
        • Don’t overcommit yourself, be realistic, maybe even a little pesimistic
          • You don’t want to have to regularly explain to the team why you couldn’t complete what you committed yourself to complete
      • Blockers
        • What’s the blocker and what it is blocking?
        • Who can help clear the block?
        • If you don’t know what to do next, ask to talk more about the blocker at the end of the meeting
    • Pro tips
      • rotate responsibility of kicking off standup
        • if you’re the leader stand up but don’t say anything, see how long everyone else stands there before self organizing.  they quickly get the hint.
      • if everyone keeps looking at the scrum master/lead you should step back or stand in a place that makes it hard to see you
        • my friend Jim Cakalic recommended standing behind or out of the person’s visual field.
      • use a little plastic toy as a team mascot and let everyone pass it around like a hot potato.  the person holding the toy is the one to speak next.
      • Make it a team norm or stand up rule that anyone can suggest that we quickly end a discuss that is taking too long
        • In standup we want speed over verboseness
        • “Let’s discuss this further after stand up.”
        • Invite anyone that wants to participate in the conversation to stick around
      • People arriving late for standup, implement a stand up rule that you have to sing your countries national anthem if you arrive late.
      • Be wary of the same update day after day. this is indicative of problem the team needs to address.
      • Ask someone to summarize the teams accomplishments and commitments for the day.


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