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VJ Dev Standups - a brief guide

Our standups should be as short as possible and as long as necessary to be useful. We run standups to achieve the following:

  • To share an understanding of goals
  • To better coordinate our efforts
  • To share problems and improvements
  • To better identify as a team

In order to do this, we come together, and actually stand up and discuss the day's activities. It's really important that you come prepared and I am often the worst at this. To help us all I have set up a slack notification for 11:15 and 11:30 daily.

The questions

Traditionally the questions are

  • What did I accomplish yesterday?
  • What will I do today?
  • What obstacles are impeding my progress?

Whereas it has been suggested that the correct order of importance is

  • Any impediments in your way?
  • What are you working on today?
  • What have you finished since yesterday?

The exact questions are up to us to formulate: The standup is to inform your team mates and not the project manager or team leads. The standup is to get yourself energised for the day and to clear obstacles. It is really important to share your defeats as well as your victories. Obstacles can be from other people - design are dragging their feet on getting me the images. If we don't get them today, we're going to delay the project - or from ourselves - I tried to make everything ES6-y but that sucked up almost half of my day, I still have a few bits left that I can't get my head around.

Order of speaking

The order in which we speak is mostly dictated to by the facilitator (more on this role in a second). We would like to get to a point where it is second nature for the team to start and end the meeting with no disctractions and no facilitator. In order to do this we are going to have to try a few different ways of choosing the order.

  • Alphabetical
  • Most important (self determined) work goes first - e.g. whoever is most excited to speak speaks
  • Most important (board determined) work goes first - e.g. work off the jira board and read right to left (jobs that are ready to go live, in testing, in planning etc) and top to bottom (ordered by priority)
  • Draw cards with numbers on them at the beginning of the meeting
  • Last to arrive goes first
  • Random / people's choice - the facilitator decides the first person and then they choose the next and so on
  • Clockwise / anti clockwise according to facilitator

What we don't want is people switching off, so a feeling of randomness is good, but difficult for the team to auto dictate without a facilitator.

The facilitator

The facilitator will ideally conduct the following tasks:

  • start the meeting
  • tell people which order / who goes first
  • Cut anyone off who goes on for too long; or
  • Encourage extra details from anyone who has not provided enough detail
  • End the meeting

In order to get rid of a facilitator entirely, we would need to implement more rules of team dependence, but I will deal with this in another post.

Over the next few weeks, we'll rotate the facilitator who gets to choose which order we go in each day. It's an experiment, so I expect it to go wrong and I will be pleasantly surprised if we manage more than one day in a row without a hiccup. That won't mean it's a failure, it's just part of the journey.

VJ Dev Standups - a brief guide
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