The Six Keys to Harnessing Effective Daily Standups for Successful Scaling

By Dougal Cameron - July 01, 2019

Do the same few tasks keep popping up? Does your team have long meetings without much follow-up or progress? Are you hustling toward an important objective but can’t seem to break through? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you could benefit from a daily stand up.

Today, Dougal Cameron with GSTVC joins us to discuss how to use a daily standup to get alignment and drive results.

The power of standups when scaling

Daily standups are a way to force priority on an initiative. When a standup is working it can feel like magic. The same team, workload, and tasks can suddenly feel more productive.

A few years ago, we had a customer with a list of frustrations. One team member in the company was responsible to drive the rest of the company to deliver on a timeline. Weeks would go by and progress seemed to constantly evade us.

The list of frustrations required multiple team members to coordinate and several months of work to complete. It seemed like any attempt to do a daily stand up would be a waste of time. After all, what could really happen in a day? None of the tasks would be able to be completed in a day.

Nevertheless, we implemented a daily standup with the team to discuss the project. I would love to claim that this was on purpose, but the fact was that it seemed like the only thing we could do to in an effort to make some progress. It was a last-ditch effort.

Things changed immediately. I was shocked by the improvement. Tasks that we thought would take weeks ended up taking days and over a week we had had more standups than all the prior meetings combined.

The reality is that this wasn’t magic at all. We had focused the team on making these issues a priority. The daily standup drove each team member to find a way to contribute each day. Roadblocks that used to take days to surface to the appropriate parties now took hours. The result of this was faster output.

Rules for the standup

Consistency is paramount for a daily standup. Pick a time that is unlikely to be interrupted, send a recurring calendar invite to the team, and never cancel. There are a few principles that I have found necessary to ensuring the standup remains potent:

  1. Start the standup at the same time each time (don’t wait for everyone to join)
  2. Don’t highlight missing people or make excuses for them on the call (but be sure to have a one on one meeting with them after)
  3. Always follow-up separately with anyone who is late or misses a meeting
  4. Keep the update to bullet points and don’t be afraid to cut people off; it’s a stand up, not a solution meeting
  5. Ensure everyone knows it is their responsibility to keep their own action items
  6. Hold everyone to the commitment they make during the standup

Focus matters

Standups are best employed for specific projects. Daily team standups where each team member is working on a different initiative don’t add much value. An email could replace that interaction much more efficiently. But when the team is pushing toward the same goal, a daily stand up can be great. The key is understanding that the focus of the standup is the progress toward the shared goal; not everyone’s individual initiatives.

Conclusion

Next time your team is working toward a shared goal try a daily standup. Remember to establish the importance of consistency and keep a tight focus on what matters. Anytime the conversation veers into execution or off topic make sure to step in and suggest a side meeting.

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