July 31, 2018

The Daily Stand Up

  —Developing positive communication patterns.

The software team I work with had a long discussion on poor communication habits. The team shows up to stand up pretty much on time every day. Attendance is good. People talk.

The issue with communication fell into two main categories: we aren’t getting the information we need and there are pockets of communication we aren’t privy too.

In the first example, not getting information we need, it turns out that the people doing the talking weren’t answering the questions people had. To make matters worse, the people listening weren’t asking questions. There is no winning in this situation. Turns out that people felt entitled to information but not responsible for asking for it and sharing what they knew.

Ask questions was my response. Hold each other to a higher standard of communication. If someone says they were in meeting but doesn’t elaborate, ask what the meeting was about.

In the second example, side conversations developed on topics of interest to individuals. These conversations were valuable to the individuals involved but didn’t promote communication in the team. The people asking questions during these conversations got answers but didn’t bring the answers back to the team.

Stop siloing conversations was my response. Move these conversations into the stand up so others can hear the question and the answer.

Then things got interesting. We have only a minute for our stand up, they said. Huddle after stand up I respond.

A huddle is a conversation involving interested parties that occurs after the stand up. I like to organize my stand up so that we action huddles, including the people who want to participate in them immediately after the stand up ends. The idea of the huddle is that it gets people out of the stand up who have something more important to do while permiting indepth conversation on topics relevant to the work we are doing.

In my opinion, getting meaningful communication to occur in the stand up is critical to its success. Changing team communication patterns so that communication goes through the stand up in a meaningful way is paramount to making the stand up useful to everyone.

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