Stand-Ups in an Agile Environment

I’m going through the Agile Practice Guide on a systematic basis to review all of its contents.   Chapter 5 covers the implementation of a project in an agile environment.

Section 5.2 of this chapter covers the eight most common agile project practices, which are:

5.2.1 Retrospectives

5.2.2 Backlog preparation

5.2.3 Backlog refinement

5.2.4 Daily Standups

5.2.5 Demonstrations/Reviews

5.2.6 Planning for Iteration-Based Agile

5.2.7 Execution Practices that Help Teams Deliver Value

5.2.8 Iterations and Increments Help Deliver Working Product

I covered the first three items on the list in the last few posts.   The previous item was about the backlog refinement process.   Now I’ll start on the fourth item, which is daily standups.

The purpose of standup meetings is to:

  • make commitments to others on the team
  • uncover problems
  • ensure the work flows smoothly through the team.

The standup should take no longer than 15 minutes, according to the Guide.

The questions that everybody on the team should answer in a round-robin fashion are the following:

  • What did I complete since the last standup?
  • What am I planning to complete between now and the next standup?
  • What are my impediments (or risk or problems).

These questions make people accountable to each other for work they committed to doing in the previous day’s standup.   If the work was not completed, the focus in not on the blame, but the barrier which caused the work not to be completed.

It may be helpful to understand what a standup is by listing some things that it is not.

  • It is not a status meeting–that would only cover the first question listed above.  It is asking the second question above (“what am I planning to complete?”), which covers the purpose of “make commitments to others on the team.”   It is asking the third questions above (“what are my impediments?”), which covers the purpose of “uncover problems.”
  • It is not a problem-solving meeting.   The problems are uncovered during the standup, but individual problem-solving sessions can occur after the standup.

The standup, in short, is a way of fostering intense collaboration among members of the team, and that is one of the reasons why it is one of the eight most common agile practices introduced in Chapter 5 of the Agile Practice Guide.

The next post will cover the fifth item, demonstrations or reviews.



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