Business-people love meetings. They love them so much that often passion overtakes them and they need to lay their heads on the desk for a while. With their eyes shut. Almost as if they’re having a nap and don’t actually care about the meeting at all.Although you might be beaming with pride looking at a calendar that shows you in such high demand, it’s extremely likely ninety percent of all the meetings you’ll ever go to are completely pointless, or at least they have a tiny needle of purpose lost somewhere deep within the vast haystack of paper-shuffling and twaddle.The problem is that meetings almost always go for entirely too long. We’re busy people, we don’t have time to waste. As such, one of our favourite parts of Agile management is the ‘stand-up meeting’.
The stand up meeting
What’s that, you ask?Contrary to popular belief, meetings aren’t supposed to be an excuse to have a chat and a maybe a biscuit, so someone clever came up with a new approach.The titular ‘stand up’ is of great importance. The main premise is that you do precisely that – you stand up. Not only is this energizing and time saving, but it’s also a great reminder after a hard day of sitting down that there’s a pair of working legs attached to your undercarriage.We stand up so that the meeting doesn’t swallow half the day - because let’s face it – standing in the same spot for any longer than you have to is no-one’s favourite pass-time. It keeps thing brief, and ensures a meeting doesn’t become a social activity.We like to gather once every day for a five-minute meeting between teams, so we all know what everyone is up to, and how they’re going with it.
Everything the team needs to know can be surmised from three questions:
- What did you do yesterday?
- Did you have any problems with it?
- What are you doing today?
We go around the circle, and everyone answers these questions, usually taking no longer than a minute. Some offices choose to use a ‘talking ball’; an ingenious device inspired by the primary education system. This is supposed to work like some kind of a microphone; only the person holding the ball is allowed to speak. We’re adults so we tend not to bother with that one.By the end of the meeting, everyone in the team knows what everyone else is up to - great for teamwork and transparency. Plus, anyone can raise any issues they might be having. If someone else in the team knows how to sort it out, we’ve just saved them from an arduous journey through thirty pages of Google search results for a resolution.
We’ve found our stand-up meetings to be incredibly successful. Not only are our teams more tight-knit than ever, (everyone helps everyone), but when we do need to call a proper ‘sit-down’ meeting, even they’re shortened. We’re all already up to speed on most of the issues we’re facing.You might even want to start taking a similar approach to your own meetings. Stand-ups are easy to make a habit of, and you can use them outside of other Agile practices and they’ll still provide great value. However, there are a few things to consider;
- If someone has an issue concerning just one other team-mate, then those two will bring it up outside of the stand-up, so as not to waste anyone else’s time.
- Don’t have a humongous group. A meeting of four hundred people will not be accelerated by having them all vertical. The smaller the group the better.
- Don’t sit down.