In this blog post, BOOQED's product team shares their own best practices for getting the maximum benefit from daily standup meetings, especially remotely.
Standup meetings. The ritual way that many startup companies and product teams start their days. Everyone stands up, obviously, and goes around to recite three points. What they did yesterday. What they will do today. What they are blocked by, where most people just say ‘no blockers.’
It is such a habit for teams to go through this that often we do not think about how to improve or change the meeting. After experimenting with different ways of approaching standup meetings, we have come up with a slightly less standard way of running that may be beneficial to you.
First though, let’s talk about the purpose of standup meetings. For us it is about syncing with the team and clearing any hurdles that will stop the team from achieving their goals. This is especially important for product teams. However, any team with work that is interdependent on multiple people will benefit.
While status of completed work is a part of this, it should be in the context of moving the team towards the goal of the project. It is about what can be handed off, what is next up, and how the team needs to sync on the work that remains.
In order to have the team focused on the collective outcome desired, we do two main things.
One, we focus conversation on outcomes and what needs to be done to get us closer to it being achieved. This is instead of making the conversation focused on each person and what they have done and are blocked on.
Two, we give status updates asynchronously before the meeting and instead focus the valuable time talking about blockers and open questions to resolve for each outcome we are working on.
Below are our five tips for taking a similar approach and running your standup meetings effectively.
We do two things to keep everyone up-to-date on the status of each outcome we are working one. First, everything is kept updated in Trello and key open questions are addressed there. Second, we do an asynchronous status update via Slack. We do a simple version where someone starts a thread and everyone responds with what was done, what needs to be done, and what they are blocked by for each feature, user story, or task they are working on.
Because we organize the meeting mainly by each outcome and what needs to move it forward, it makes sense to have everyone look at the same thing. Thus we go through the current sprint’s Trello board from right to left (right most being completed work). For each item we ask what is blocking it from moving forward or what open questions need to be discussed to provide enough clarity to continue working on it.
This is an important point, so we’ll make it a separate tip, even though it is included above. Breaking down the meeting by each outcome means the outcome becomes central to the discussion. This opens it up to everyone to sync on what needs to be done to help move it forward vs. a single individual giving an update.
Standup meetings are supposed to be short. If open items or blockers can be resolved immediately, do so. Just make sure you document the decisions so it can be referred to after the meeting. If something cannot be resolved immediately, set it aside and set up a follow up item for the team to resolve before the next standup meeting.
These meetings are quick, but a lot can be discussed and decided in a short time. Make sure everyone has that context, especially anyone that was not able to attend due to a timing conflict. Document the decisions and follow up items and send out to the team. We also record the meetings over Zoom, so in addition to the notes, anyone has access to the video of the meeting to review afterwards, if they need it.
We made the switch to this approach several months ago. It did take a little bit of time to get used to. In the end, it has resulted in more clarity in what needs to be discussed each day and more features getting to the finish line and released to our customers.
If you're thinking of getting the team together for a standup meeting or working session, check out the BOOQED app to book flexible meeting spaces in Hong Kong, Singapore, Shenzhen, and Shanghai. Download now (Android and iOS)