May I present Bill’s rules for running effective daily standups.

In turn, everyone says:

  • what they’ve finished, if they’ve shipped something
  • what they’re working on
  • what’s blocking them

After each update the team should:

  • Celebrate success
  • Remove blockers
  • Refer to goals

It should take about a minute for each update and the follow ups (e.g. “great, now we can do X” or “can anyone help with that?”).

Good standups

  • Engage everyone
  • Facilitate coordination
  • Reinforce the traits that make the team effective

Why are these rules good?

The kanban (‘walk the board’) style of standup involves the team lead listing out each story on the board and asking for an update.

An alternative is the three questions approach. Each team member takes turns to answer three questions: what they did today, yesterday, and blockers.

Both feel like a status update to management, not coordinating with the team.

My rules modify the three questions approach to emphasise tasks completed or in progress, rather than time spent ‘today’ and ‘yesterday’.

This helps build psychological safety; people aren’t put on the spot by management, they get to decide what to discuss.

Having everyone speak engages everyone, and running it efficiently gives the first meeting of the day a sense of determination (but not urgency), to create energy (not anxiety).

Feedback welcome!

If you have advice for running a good standup I would be interested to hear it!