By Christopher Swenor, CEO of East Coast Product.
Ready to streamline the boring (and time-consuming) daily check-in meeting and replace it with something that's actually useful? Chances are your developers are already doing it with a daily standup. Daily standups, borrowed from Agile/Scrum development methodologies, are a simple and efficient way to update your team on what you're working on, as well as highlight what's stopping you from reaching your goals. At a predetermined time each day, have your entire team stand (or even plank) in a circle and take turns sharing the following:
- What you did yesterday;
- What you plan to do today;
- What (if anything) is blocking your productivity.
An effective standup should take fewer than two minutes per person. Make sure the standup starts on time, and at the same time and place every day. Don't worry if a team member can't make it, but don't delay or postpone the meeting. Standups can be a reliable tool for companies looking to scale, but also keep communication open.
When my company began to grow, my biggest fear was that the communication that became so vital to our growth in the first place would diminish. Standups allowed us to stay interconnected between departments and unified in our efforts going forward. Two years, 19 employees and hundreds of standups later, we still work to stay connected and focused.
Benefits of Daily Standups
- Increase transparency across a team or organization. One of the hardest things to tackle when a company or team starts to scale is ensuring the timely flow of information. Standups keep everyone accountable and present a great opportunity for managers to get a snapshot of progress and potential problem areas at any given time.
- Optimize planning and organization. Simply preparing for a standup is a great way to get yourself organized. Take a few minutes to document what you've been working on so you can easily figure out scheduling and what to prioritize.
- Encourage communication in cross-functional teams. Standups are a great way to make sure everyone knows what's going on around them and how their work affects others. Since standups are so quick, you can actually merge different teams together for check-ins. For example, our marketers and content creators often attend development standups to see if there are any new interesting content opportunities.
Pro Tips for Holding Successful Non-Technical Standups
- Actually stand up. The key benefit of standing up is that it keeps the meeting short and to the point. If you allow people to sit during standups, you'll notice attention spans shrinking and individual updates exceeding their allotted time.
- Designate a Scrum master. The role of the Scrum master is to keep the standup moving and on-task. Either designate a single Scrum master or rotate the role. The Scrum master should feel free to interrupt lengthy explanations or ask team members to defer conversations and questions until after the standup. For our standups, each of our department heads acts as the leader. This allows them to not only carry out the Scrum master duties, but also answer any quick questions about the department.
- Come prepared and ready to listen. Take a few minutes before the standup to ponder the three speaking points outlined earlier. Keep a notebook with bullet points on everything you have done that you want to mention during the meeting. Not only will this help you get organized, but it will free you up to truly listen and pay attention to what your other team members are saying.
Even though standups were originally conceived as a tool for Agile development teams, they can easily be adapted to non-technical teams to increase communication and efficiency. We use standups across all of our departments, as they allow us to stay on top of what is most important both internally and with our clients.
Christopher Swenor is the CEO of East Coast Product, a digital product agency located in Boston, MA.