Agile needs communication. That’s true. But sometimes this could be an excuse for having too much meetings. From my observation many years, I found out most of meeting take longer, I have to say much longer, than they should be. Some developers and managers could spend 4 or even more hours attending meeting every single day. If that’s the case, for a developer, how do you have time to write code, to refactor, to write unit test? Or if you are a manager, then you will definitely have no enough time to talk to your people, to understand what they are thinking and what they are going through.
Today I want to talk about the stand-up meeting. Stand-up meeting is common to every people. But many stand-up meetings are just a procedure people have to have every sinlge day. The stand-up meeting is losing its meaning in some teams.
Stand-up meeting is supposed to help you understand what's going on in this team, and help manager to get the blocker as soon as possible. Stand-up meeting should be short and precise.
Yet, here are some scenarioes you might have every day
- A big team’s stand-up meeting. Even everyone just talked one minute, then this stand-up meeting may take you 30 minutes. Valuable 30 minutes!
- Someone are really talktive. This person will talk more than 3 minutes. But most of it are just useless detail.
- Some update are really short. Like this one, “I was working on home page yerterday, and I’ll continue working on that. No blocks”. His manager would be hard to get more information from this update. What progress do you have, are you able to finish it on time, are you finished the functionality, accessibility, and UI?
- This is a stand-up meeting in payment team. But somehow some other developers or managers are giving their updates here too.
These are very common scenarioes, and you might hate it that it took so much time. You have some urgent bug to fix, or you have a deadline in front of you. Time is the most precious thing, and you cannot have the lost time back. So we want to spent the time carefully and wisely. We want to communicate with everyone, in a efficient way.
Believe me, I've been there. This also pushed me to think about a solution to have a much more efficient meeting within our team. Here is some rules I figured out in the past couple years.
Rule 01: People attending the meeting:
This is the most important rule. The group must be small and relevant. It should contains Dev, QA, scrum/project manager, and maybe DCX/UED. But the total number should be limited to 10. I know you may surprised by this number. You may have a big team. You have 13 developer(5 android, 5 iOS, 3 back-end), 5QA, 2DCX/UED, 1 manager. Yes, this number, 21, is much exceed this number. What should you do? My answer is dividing it. You need to fulfill three features in this sprint. Okay, split it into three small team. Every small team has their own stand-up team. After all, the developers doing feature A does not care the progress of feature B. After each stand-up meeting, the manager will receive all the three meeting minute emails, so the manager will miss nothing. If the manager has questions or something to emphasize, you could talk to the people. That's your job, manage the project and help people.
To sum up, the people should be limited to less then 10 people, and they are tightly related to this project, or this feature. Thus, your stand-up meeting will be short and always focus on the things that you really care about.
Rule 02: You need a chair
Someone is talktive, and someone may a little shy, you need to a chair to interrupt the long and meaningless talk, and encourage and guide people to talk what we need to hear.
This chair should be strong and fair. He or she should be willing to interrupt meaningless talk. I did see a couple of chair who just stand there, and let talktive people talk and talk.
By the way, Robert's Rules of Order is a quite good principle that you should read it and apply it to your project.
Rule 03: Short
You only need to talk about "what you did yesterday", "what you will do today" and "what's the block". Nothing more, nothing less. The entire time everyone was talking should be limited to less than 1 minutes.
If you have a block that you need to discuss with other people, you can park it, put it on the white board. After this stand-up meeting, you then can discuss it.