My name is Henrik Larsson and I interviewing Jason Yip, Agile/Lean consultant at ThoughWorks.

Q: Jason, can you tell me a little bit about the article “It’s Not Just Standing Up: Patterns of Daily Stand-up Meetings” and why you wrote it?

From what I recall, the initial trigger was Phillip Laplante’s article about why he hated standup meetings. When I read it, it reminded me of the dysfunctions I had been seeing in how people were doing daily stand-ups. It seems like such a simple practice and yet I was repeatedly seeing it done wrong, or at least sub-optimally. I figured it was worth trying to address this by publishing something that people could use as a reference and point others to. The article was my attempt to gather the state of the art in thinking and practice about how do stand-ups well.

Q: Why do you think Daily Stand-ups are so powerful?

At a minimum, it gets people talking to each other which is actually a big deal in many places. Beyond the minimum, a well-run standup is very effective at exposing problems. Of course, what happens after problems are detected is even more important.

Q: When did you first read or hear about stand-up meetings?

This was back in 1999 or 2000 when learning about Extreme Programming. I don’t remember exactly but it was probably the Portland Pattern Repository (i.e., the original wiki) where I first read about it.

Q: Has your view on Daily Stand-ups changed during these years?

Yes, definitely. I used to see it more about status. Then I shifted to see it more about commitment, mainly due to Mike Cohn’s writings. These days, I see it as more about problem-solving. My current preference is much more strongly toward a “walk-the-board” style of stand-up when a task / story board is available. I tend to emphasise much more the importance of focusing on completing work versus just people trying to be busy.

Having said that, there are still some aspects that haven’t changed over the years, such as the importance of keeping the ritual high-energy and being about sharing with the team versus reporting to
a leader.

Q: VersionOne just recently published the results from “State of Agile Survey 2009”. The survey shows that Daily Stand-up is the second most popular agile technique. Why do you think stand-up meetings are so popular?

Perhaps a cynical answer but I would say because it seems easy to do.

Q: What single thing do you think is most important to get right for a team using Daily Stand-up meetings? Why?

Understand why you’re doing the stand-up. You’re sharing information so that the whole team can achieve their objective. If this is not clear, then you’re really just wasting time.

Q: The classic three questions (What did?/What will?/Impediments?) is the basic agenda of Daily Stand-up meetings. Many teams are improving and customizing these meetings. Have you seen any customizations that could be beneficial for many other teams?

The “walk-the-board” style is something that many teams should consider trying. In general, have the work items (i.e., user stories) ask the questions rather than the people. What happened to the story yesterday? What is going to happen to the story today? What is impeding the story from progressing?

The Daily Scrum Meeting is the primary meeting for team members (chickens) in Scrum. Do you think that this technique could successfully be used outside the software development community? Where and how?

Short, daily meetings are already used outside the software development community. For example, most Lean environments have been using them before the concept became popular in software development
circles. I don’t see anything particularly software development specific about daily stand-ups.