Protocol for Daily Stand-Up Meetings

Protocol for Daily Stand-Up Meetings

During lockdown, I’ve looked at different ways to refine how I work. When I began to forensically track my performance, it became clear that I was ‘leaking’ time in ways I hadn’t taken into account.

In the coming articles, I’ll go into more depth about how I’ve optimized my productivity framework.

Context on protocols

However, two of the major influences came from the surgeon Atul Gawande’s book The Checklist Manifesto and Andrew Huberman’s protocols.

In short, I’ve started to break down daily commonly performed tasks into atomic protocols. Depending on your industry, you might call these runbooks, work instructions, or standard operating procedures. For now, I’m going with protocols and it’s the simplest, and doesn’t have the associations of the other terms.

So, to put this into context, here’s a rough draft of a protocol for my daily stand-up meetings. I hope you find this helpful. Hit reply or reach out to me on socials.

Daily stand-up protocol

Mondays always feel the busiest, thought I suspect that award should go to Tuesday.

It feels busy as kick-off meetings remind us where we’re going (good) and set the tone (better).

For me, there is not one but three daily standups on Monday. As I run most of these, I know in my bones how these should work as I’ve been well and truly marinated in Agile.

Next week, I’m off to Bordeaux for a week’s holidays. So, before I week, I scribbled down a few pointers for the stand-in team lead. If you run DSUs, see if this helps.

Daily stand-up checklist

Arrive 5 min early. Make sure the room is available, ready, and the projector is turned on if you’re going to use it. This is to give yourself time to prepare and also nudge people into the office as you head over.

Bring note book and pen. Use this to record notes. If you’re also doing Jira boards on the call, nominate someone to take action points.

Timebox. Max 15 minutes. This helps focus and prevents meetings from dragging on.

Format. I find the stand-up part unnecessary, especially as most of the team is remote.

Start on time, every time. Do NOT get into the habit of waiting for late joiners. Remind them serial later attenders to attend the meeting on time. There’s often a subtle passive aggressive streak in late attenders. It’s a micro expression of sabotage.

Tardiness. If someone is late 3 times, consider getting them to lead the meetings for a week or bring in treats on Friday. Be careful here as this can backfire.

Mute. When you start, especially for Zoom/Teams calls, check that everyone’s cameras are on mute. Some genuinely forget…

Cameras on. If you have less than say 10 on a call, I’d ask people to turn on their cameras. Personally, I find it creepy having to talk to a dark screen.

Nominate a leader. Keep the team engaged by rotating the presenters. As well as keeping the meeting fresh, it allows people to step up. It’s also a good indicator to see who’s been paying attention in recent calls.

Sequence. I don’t go around the room. Instead, using Jira, I discuss the flagged tickets first, then To Do, and finally the backlog. I skip Done as well… these are done.

2 Questions. Focus the meeting on these two questions. 1. What are you working on? 2. Are there any blockers preventing you from making progress?

No solutioning. DSUs are for deep discussions or problem-solving. Arrange a huddle if a deep dive is required.

Listening v Interrupting. Encourage the team to actively listen. Don’t let people cut across someone unless they genuinely are rambling or have misunderstood a question.

Countdown. “We have 2 minutes left. Anything else we haven’t covered?” Remind the team we need to finish on time. This can be a subtle hint if a senior person is hogging the space.

Wrap-up. Ask them team if we’ve missed anything. Some just need a little prompting.

Meeting overflow. Avoid running over into the next meeting automatically. Give yourself 5 min to write up any notes, and gather your breath.  

The Finer Points

I’m seeing a lot of gains from protocols. There’s nothing revolutionary about using checklists, runbooks, or work instructions. However, there is something very effective in getting something you’re out of your head and onto paper.

For one, it’s a relief not to have to ‘remember’ everything. More than that, by transferring it to paper, you get some distance. You see your working methods objectively. Once you have that down, you can then take steps to refine, improve and share with your team.

Does that help?

Let me know how you run your standups.

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