Thursday, March 25, 2010

Standup Meetings

Coordination on a project team is really important - seems obvious right? One tool to getting there is to have a daily stand up meeting where each person gets 2 minutes or less to share the following:

  • What have they accomplished

  • What are the working on today

  • What road blocks are they running into

First just knowing what each other are doing today is very helpful. I had frequent situations where someone will say, "you're working that? You may want to talk with Tom - he knows about that." Team members will raise questions that others can answer or there are situations that one team member doesn't even know what question to ask, but will get input. Team members also appreciate short meetings!

The key to the meeting is to keep it short and very crisp. How long depends on the size of the team meeting. I shoot for five to ten minutes. Everyone should have a minute or less. I've found that folks are usually around 15 seconds. There's always someone who goes over, but as the team has more of these, people settle into a rhythm.

  • Send out a recurring meeting notice. If the team all sit near each other, schedule a conference room. Meeting should run through the life of the project.

  • Meeting is best held first thing in the morning. I have people in different time zones, so I schedule as early as possible for everyone. I give people a 1/2 hr to get into the office, get their coffee, check email, etc. Don't let time be the hang up. If people can't make it until 11:30am ET, then do that.

  • Meeting notice example: "The purpose of this meeting is to keep other members of the team informed as to what you're doing and if you need help. Each person gets 1 minutes or less to cover the following: (1) what have you accomplished since the last meeting, (2) What are you working on today, (3) Are there any impediments preventing you from meeting your commitments, and (4) is there any time today or the rest of the week when you won't be available."

  • If people are meeting in a conference room - everyone stands up

  • I go first so I can model how the meeting should run. I find myself sometimes just asking for today's tasks and not contributing myself. Not good. I'm a part of the team as much as anyone else and have my share to carry.

  • I take notes - not of everything everyone says, but key issues.

  • Don't be afraid to use the phrase, "let's take that off line". I find that being specific helps, "Tom, can you and Al take that off line and let me know before next stand up?"

  • It's easy to forget the meeting once it happens, but my work isn't done. I review the list of notes and follow up with people.
A great resource is the book, Death By Meeting by Patrick Lencioni. Very easy to read - it's a parable. It describes this approach along with some other meeting styles.