Keep It Short and Let's Eat!
Another way to keep stand-ups within the 15-minute time frame
7 October 2016
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Many articles have been written on the various techniques for starting the stand-up meeting on time and making it short. The benefits gained through these techniques are essential to being an effective and high-achieving Agile team.
The problem with many of the solutions is that they use punishment to teach team members to appear on time or keep things brief. These include practices as simple as standing up during the session, "paying the jar," passing a medicine ball around as each team member speaks, and so on.
I think these advantages can also be achieved without any punishing restrictions. As Lean-Agile leaders, we should motivate members and create constraints only when necessary.
Accordingly, my team uses a new approach — which could be a local opportunity, but I am sure that many companies have exhibited the same behaviors in some form or another. Our cafeteria opens for lunch at 11:30 a.m. If we arrive on time, we get our food quickly; but only a two-minute latency can result in an additional ten-minute wait time. What does this have to do with our stand-ups? It's simple. We start our daily meetings at 11:15 a.m. This way, everybody has some incentive to arrive on time and to finish the meeting on time, to avoid standing in the lunch line. This has been working perfectly for more than a year now. The team always shows up, everybody is fast and efficient, and we get our food quickly most of the time.
This method has a little flaw, which is easily solvable. If there is anything that is urgent that we need to address but that only requires some members of the team, we do not have the time to resolve the issue after the stand-up, as we have to get to the cafeteria on time. There are two solutions, for different cases. If the issue or impediment is serious and urgent, we simply postpone lunch for an hour or so, and we solve the problem. Otherwise, we deal with it right after lunch.
This may not work for teams with multiple locations or with multiple day-to-day agendas, but for a colocated team that goes to lunch together, it is a really a great way of assuring that the time frame is upheld, without using punishing techniques.
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