In reading Patrick Lencioni’s “Death by Meeting” a few years ago, I came across a simple and effective idea: the daily ‘stand up’ meeting. Often employed in Agile development, the concept is a simple one; the project team meets for 10 minutes each day for a quick meeting where everyone literally “stands up” and the focus is on three simple questions:
- What did you do yesterday?
- What are you doing today?
- What do you need from me (the project manager, business sponsor, etc.)?
I’m currently working with some great clients who are making good use of this approach. We meet every morning, knowing the agenda (above) in advance. After about 5 minutes of respective prep work, the participants are ready to go. Everyone understands that issues that only impact several members of the team are to be addressed after the meeting in a smaller group, made up of those stakeholders.
I think there are several benefits of this approach:
- Teaches participants to collaborate to conduct highly efficient, content-rich meetings
- Allows everyone to hear each other’s expectations of the day and each person’s take on what they believe they did the day before, providing a great opportunity to catch any problems, miscommunications, accountability issues or potential risks
- With strong leadership of the meeting itself, the team remains focused (the leader will need to work hard to enforce the ground rules while at the same time not taking a dictatorial approach to running the meetings)
- Significantly reduces the chances of unpleasant surprises
If you choose to employ this method, a few tips:
- Prepare ahead of time and insist that all participants do the same
- Everyone should be on time
- Minimize distractions – make sure everyone is focused on the speaker and not sending emails, texting, making/taking calls
- Stay focused, but make sure that any topics brought up that aren’t appropriate for all participants but that are critical to the project are acknowledged and dealt with as soon as possible after the meeting
While the ‘stand up’ meeting isn’t a substitute for a more comprehensive weekly project team meeting, its great way to manage expectations, make sure the team is communicating, and to manage risk.