Walking the Board

I got a great tip for stand-up meetings from my friend Darryn. He was a QA on my team at the time but secretly moonlighting as an Agile Coach.

A stand-up is a quick morning meeting held to update the rest of the team about progress on current tasks or stories of the sprint.

It frequently involves everyone standing in a semi-circle around a board, then each person takes turns staring at their shoes and talking in a droning voice about what they did the previous day and what their plan is for the coming day.

Darryn’s tip was to focus on the board items instead of the people and it works like this:
1 – Assuming you have a normal process where items progress from left to right, start at the right of the board and go backwards through each item in turn.
2 – Ask what’s needed to finish or progress the item. Yesterday is gone, no-one’s really interested in the past. All that matters is what is needed now to complete that item.
3 – It’ll quickly become apparent if someone needs help, be it a technical dig-out or a code review etc. Then this can be decided right away with volunteer(s) from the team.

It’s a subtle distinction but it puts the attention in the right place and simplifies stand-up. Additionally, by working from the right of the board, the items closest to completion get prioritised first, which helps the team stop starting and start finishing!

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?