Counter Those Boring Meetings with Stand-up Meetings
Do you consider a “boring meeting” to be a redundant phrase? As helpful as advice on staying awake during boring meetings may be, keep in mind that ten-to-fifteen-minute stand-up sessions could be an effective way to make meetings more productive and less boring. Stand-up meetings are intended to share essential information quickly in an open space, thereby avoiding the boredom factor.
Stand up means no chairs, no way to get too comfortable, and no one checking email. And no reserving conference rooms. In fact, conference rooms in some companies are gathering dust as the stand-up meeting has replaced the conventional sit and yak-yak-yak meeting.
If you’re involved in agile-based software development projects, you’ve probably become familiar with the questions used at stand-up meetings (sometimes called a "daily scrum," a "daily huddle," or "morning roll-call”), which are basically:
- What have I done since yesterday’s meeting?
- What am I doing today?
- What obstacles stand in the way of getting my work done?
The nice thing about stand-up meetings is that each team can adapt them to fit its needs. For example, to prevent anyone from going on too long, one team has the person giving the update hold a three-kilogram (six-and-a-half pound) medicine ball at arm's length. It’s heavy enough that you don't want to give a long update.
Another team holds meetings at a forty-two-inch-high kitchen island, which confers a greater feeling of informality than sitting at a table.
A third team holds meetings just before lunch, which ensures they end quickly.
And at a company that holds stand-up meetings around a ping-pong table, on days when everyone is swamped, team members shout out their updates from their desks, which are arranged in a circle. They call those meetings sit downs.
When it comes to stand-up meetings, nothing, it seems, is too far-fetched. Thomas Schranz finds that sometimes stand-up meetings can feel rushed, defeating its very purpose. He favors a ritual—brewing and enjoying tea together—as a reminder to slow down and connect to the moment.
I’m imagining you're saying, “You’ve got to be kidding!” Still, even though it’s an ad, the video in this post underscores the point that cultural differences may influence how the stand-up meeting is carried out.
Although some team leaders feel antsy at the idea of furniture-free, PowerPoint-free meetings, Mike Cohn has found that the very brevity of the meeting is a sufficient selling point for most people to give it a try. Unless, of course, you face the situation Dilbert faces.
What works best at your stand-up meetings?