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Keep the team communicating without wasting time

Introduction

Stand up meetings facilitate team communication without taking a lot of time.

Meetings can take huge amount of time that could be used to get work done.  However, if you skip team meetings, people can get out of touch, waste time because they don't understand what everyone else is doing, and lose motivation to get work done.  How can you increase communication without wasting time?

You can hold daily stands in which fosters communication without taking a lot of time. Stands also help you think through what you should be doing to meet your goals (sprint goals).

In a stand, the entire group literally stands up and describes what they did, what they are going to do, and who they need to meet with later.

Background

Knowledge


Stands 

Stands are quick meetings in which project members answer questions regarding their project progress. The goal of stands is to 

  • improve accountability within the team by reporting what important things they achieved;
  • facilitate team member communication so everyone know who is working on what; and
  • help teams reflect on the weekly goals they should be aiming for (that is, support metacognition about the project and project activity).


How

Steps

It's really easy to run a stand. The idea is that it should be quick! Timebox the stand to last no-more than 15 minutes. If the stand raises important issues that will require more time to resolve, plan a separate meetings to solve those issues (and loop in relevant people who can help, such as a coach, professor, and studio lead).

To run a stand:

A) The facilitator asks everyone to stand up (making people stand up ensures that people keep the meeting short because they will get tired standing up). Nominate a secretary to record the answers on the Loft Activity Stream (the secretary gets to sit as it is hard to type standing). Also nominate someone to write down the goals on your project Workbench (to-do list) on your Loft Project Page.

B) Review your current goals by stating:

  • Question 1) What is your teams current medium-term (sprint) goals? These are normally weekly or two-weekly goals. This might have changed, since your last stand, and if so state this.
  • Question 2) Is your team currently on track to complete these goals? This is a simple yes/no. This allows you to troubleshoot as a team. If the answer to question 2 is no, this requires either changing how you are working on, or changing your medium-term goals (sprint goals).

C) Each person then describes:

  • Question 3) What specific progress they have made toward the goal since last stand? This is to help communication on who is did what, and keep your team accountable to doing the right work to achieve your goals.
  • Question 4) What will you get done between now and the next stand? Here define how people will spend their time between now and the next Stand. Again, this is to aide communication and accountability. Have one team member record all the to-dos on the Workbench.
  • Question 5) What are the major obstacles stopping them from achieving your goal by next meeting, and how will we resolve them? Who do you need to talk to or what will you do to overcome these obstacles? 

Question 5 is about working out how to get over the obstacles that all design teams face. Sometimes you won't need to write anything here. However, always saying you don't need help is a bad sign. One of the the factors that separates the best design teams from the rest is that they are able to know that they need help, and what resources to draw upon from others in their studio (coaches, peers, studios leads, or professors).


References

Blank, S., & Dorf, B. (2012). The startup owner's manual. K&S; Ranch.

Rasmusson, J. (2010). The agile samurai: How agile masters deliver great software (pragmatic programmers). USA: Pragmatic Bookshelf