Stand-up, sit-down, but whatever you do, don’t have a discussion!
At Q Digital Studio, we mix with a lot of development teams that are "agile" or practice "scrum methodology." We don't adhere to any strict methodology. Instead, we like to borrow ideas that sound good and then adapt them to our needs. One of these great ideas is the daily stand-up, aka the daily meeting.
We call our daily meeting the Daily Q (for Q Digital Studio.) We don't require standing up for the meeting, but we do aim for it to be short and sweet, ideally just five minutes. Our Daily Q is primarily a meeting about what our current tasks are and planning for what's next.
It's not a brainstorming or problem-solving meeting – those should not involve the whole team. (There is a time and place for brainstorming and problem solving, and it’s at a planned time, with an agenda and it only involves the necessary people.)
In addition to our Daily Q, we also have a once a week company meeting we call the Weekly Q. This is a more in-depth meeting, but we still keep it short so it doesn’t turn into a soapbox for any one person, or into a time-suck for any one project.
Our daily meeting rules
The idea behind the scrum/daily stand-up is for a team to meet every morning to discuss what they’re actively doing on a given project: specifically to outline what they accomplished the day before, what’s on the docket for their day and any issues impeding their work. It’s called a stand-up, because typically teams stand up so that no one gets too comfortable – this helps keep it short.
“We don't require standing up for the meeting, but we do aim for it to be short and sweet, ideally just five minutes.”
While we don’t do our daily meetings precisely this way, here are the guidelines for our daily morning meetings – the Daily Q.
1. Same time everyday.
We start our workday at 8 am officially. Our Daily Q is at 8:30, which theoretically gives everyone enough time to review emails, maybe knock out a small task or two, and make their to do list/plan for the day.
2. Same place.
We have our meetings in person for everyone in the office. And we Skype call anyone working out of the office that day.
3. Same people, same order.
Our daily meeting involves the entire team working that day, no matter what project or what location. (We have a flexible work environment, so not everyone works every weekday.) We each give our updates in the same order every day. If someone isn't there, we just move on to the next person.
4. Same focus.
The goal for the meeting is the same. The primary focus is what each person is working on for the day across any project, and whether we have any issues or need anything – either from someone else on the team or from a client. As team leader, I often help folks adjust priorities. The meeting helps us find out if we need to have additional meetings for specific projects/tasks, or follow-up with clients.
Why is a daily meeting so great?
On a small web team (ours is seven), it's nice to know what everyone is up to. We rarely all work on the same project, but we are often matched up into twos and threes on certain projects. It’s good for everyone to see each other face-to-face everyday.
We're a close-knit team and our daily meeting helps us function as a powerful cohesive unit. As team leader, I like to make sure no small tasks are forgotten, and priorities are kept in the right order. And because it's just a few minutes everyday, the meeting is not a big time sink – it's optimally targeted and useful.
What if… ?
What happens if someone isn't there or is late?
I have a tendency to wait 5 minutes, but if someone is later than that, we go ahead without them. We start on time about 90% of the time, and a few minutes late the rest of the time.
What happens if someone starts talking about something too detailed or off-topic?
We’ve been doing our Daily Q for about a year. At this point, it’s unusual for someone to get totally side-tracked. But if it starts to happen, someone will say, let's talk about it right after this meeting. No big deal, we just keep on target.
What if you need to talk about company-wide stuff for more than 5 minutes?
We do need to do this! We have a once a week meeting where we talk about what we're working on for the week, as well as bigger events/news, such as company holidays, new projects, etc. These meetings last around 15-20 minutes for our team of seven. In addition, we schedule brainstorming meetings, planning sessions and other meetings as needed from time-to-time.