Stand-ups

This guide introduces concepts and a basic model of stand-ups meetings to get you started.

Stand-ups help set direction and focus for the whole team. Use stand-ups as meetings to connect, plan, share updates and roadblocks.

They are useful for:

  • communicating important information
  • sharing priorities, contributions or highlight progress blockers
  • collaboration on issues and tasks
  • providing accountability and transparency.

Teams also use stand-ups to track progress and adjust planned work in "sprints". Sprints are specific time periods. 

Digital Profession Plays – Stand-ups

The basic stand-up model

A stand-up meeting is:

  • quick and short - for example, 15 minutes
  • regular, at the same time and place - for example, daily at 10:00 am
  • inclusive - all team members should take part and have their say
  • also known as a 'scrum'.

Quick meetings force participants to stay on track and be relevant. A regular schedule sets team habits and expectations of what happens in stand-ups. Some teams use a 'scrum master' to do this. 

There are many variations - please adapt this to suit your team. For example, 15 minutes might be too short for a larger team that meets once a week. It is more important that teammates are able to connect and share information.

Organising the stand-up

As the organiser or lead

  • Set a regular time for the stand-up.
  • If in-person, set the same place or room for all your stand-ups.
  • If you're tracking work, use a kanban board which helps organise tasks.
  • Before the stand-up, share the team or sprint goals if applicable.

For remote teams

If your team is remote, you may need:

  • video conferencing platform with screen sharing
  • a digital project board (kanban). 

For in-person teams

If your team meets in-person, you may need:

  • a meeting space - quiet and in the same place if possible
  • a display screen 
  • a digital project board (kanban).

Running the stand-up

Here are two common methods used to run a stand-up.

3 questions stand-up method

A common method of running the stand-up is to get everyone to answer 3 questions:

  • What did I achieve yesterday?
  • What will I do today (or focus on today)?
  • What obstacles do I have to my work?

The aim is to allow teammates to share insights and information, and get help if needed.

'Walk the board' stand-up method

This method suits teams that have deliverables, sprints and use a kanban board.

Using the board, each team member will discuss their tasks.

  • Start with work closest to completion and what the team can do to help finish it.
  • Work back through all work and bring up any blockers.
Simplified kanban board with tasks
Using a kanban board, each team member discusses their assigned tasks, starting from done or nearly completed, to work to be started.
 

Discussing issues and problem-solving

It is important to stay on track to keep the meeting moving. If you can't solve obstacles quick in stand-up, have a separate meeting.

Some teams set aside a time following the stand-up, called the 'parking lot'. Attendance of the parking lot is voluntary.

Tips for good stand-up

  • Focus on the work that's most important or valuable on the day.
  • Minimise distractions by mobile phones and emails.
  • Make sure everyone gets a go.
  • Be polite, considerate and collaborative.

Things to avoid

  • Don't describe your schedule for the day or list your upcoming meetings.
  • Don't have off-tangent, long discussions. If you need to, have a separate meeting.
  • Don't get into social/non-work conversations.

More resources on agile

Kanban

A kanban board is a project management tool used in agile teams. 

Sprint

Sprints are time-boxed periods during which team tasks will be completed.

Scrum master

A scrum master facilitates the running of a stand-up.

Parking lot

A time set aside, usually immediately after stand-up, to discuss issues outside of stand-up.

Retrospectives

Retrospectives (retros) give the team a chance to reflect and share what went well and what didn't.

Join the Digital Profession's Agile and Lean Community

You'll find more resources, advice and support in the Digital Profession's Agile and Lean Community. It's an open and safe space to connect with peers, share experiences, ask questions and help solve common problems.

The community also runs a 'Lean Coffee' meetup every second Thursday of the month. This event is open to anyone who would like to discuss topics around agile, lean start-up, DevOps and more. Lean Coffee is a structured, but agenda-less, meeting. Participants gather, build an agenda, and begin talking. Conversations are relevant and productive because the agenda for the meeting was democratically generated. Find out more on the home page of the Agile and Lean Community.