An effective standup meeting

Over the years, I have worked with probably hundreds of different teams. Working with all sorts of methodologies ranging from "just getting stuff done" to all sorts of agile inspired processes.

By far, agile is the most frequent methodology I have worked with. At least some variation of it has been in my last 10+ years. Though I have varied styles, processes and ceremonies, one of the staples of all the variations I dealt with has had some kind of stand-up meeting.

What is a stand-up meeting?

It is a simple (usually short - up to 15 minutes) meeting that happens every day. The team gathers to give a quick overview of what has happened during the day and what are the next steps.

It is called a stand-up meeting because it was originally designed to be done standing up. The idea being that if you were standing in a room discussing things, you would probably not want to extend it too much.

These meetings can happen at any moment of the day, but, usually they are best done either first thing in your work day or as a last meeting of the day.

How to stand-up

Though I could list, off the top of my head, probably about two dozen variations of a stand-up, and I think there is nothing particularly wrong with them, I have a small template I usually try to implement with the teams I am working with.

Please note that it is perfectly OK to adjust this to suit your team better. Feel free to cut or add to this.

Before I go into this, some points to remember when implementing a stand-up meeting.

What is the objective of the stand up?

The objective is subjective. You probably want some sort of idea of what your team has accomplished during the day. You want to know if they are facing any difficulties or if they need assistance to get something done, and finally what they are planning to do the next working day.

What do you want your team to take from it

The team should feel that they have accomplished something today. If not, they should understand why and what prevented them from achieving it. Finally they should have a plan for what they are doing next.

How long should it be?

This is tricky - teams should not be very large - 5 to 6 developers in a team is close to what a manager can handle. To that line, something between 2 - 3 minutes for a developer and another 2-3 minutes for saying hellos and goodbyes - should leave you with a 25 minute standup in a worst case scenario.

The template I like to use.

I usually start off with three very simple basic questions?

  1. What was the result of my work today? What value did I bring to the team or company?
  2. Is there anything/anyone blocking me for tomorrow?
  3. What is it I plan to achieve tomorrow?

Points that are important to note about this list is that I do not mention tasks. I mention value. This is a subtle but important difference which makes your team focus on deliverable value rather than the number of tasks.

Variations on the template

Asynchronous Entries

I manage several teams at my current position. I cannot be present at all standups. To mitigate this, I have suggested that the team start to adopt an asynchronous stand-up. Sort of a Starlog Entry of the day. They do this shortly before their meetings. I skim over these and look at where I can be more useful. The meetings tend to focus on trying to solve any blocking items, celebrating some achievement or just to align what will be done the next day. They are short, sweet and add great value to the team.

Adding questions

Highlights of the day

At work, we like to celebrate all small victories. We have an extensive log of daily highlights where we contribute to whenever a team delivers something that is valuable to the company. With this in mind, we also like to remind people that they should be proud of their accomplishments and they should add them to our daily highlight log.

Tracking Metrics and Goals

One other little hack is to add a 2 minute section at the end of the stand -up where you track metrics and goals. A simple way to do this is by creating a simple dashboard with the current metrics. You may add this report every day or once or twice a week depending on how much your team deploys.

Look at the road map

A quick glance at the road map will give you a good idea of how your team is handling the tasks at hand. Besides allowing you and the team to know how on or off track you are, it also reinforces the sense of responsibility and ownership of the team.

Important announcements

If a member of your team will be absent or late due to some appointment or other obligation the next day, you may want to remind the team about it in a standup.


Short is good. Three minutes is the maximum amount of time you should spend summarizing your day. It is OK not to have anything ground-breaking every day. Small deliverables, documentations, support tickets are all small deliverables that can add up to an impressive value.

Hope this was a handy guide to the world of stand-ups.

Featured image by UK Black Tech on Unsplash