Agile

All About Daily Kanban Stand Up: 15 Minutes that Accelerate Release

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There is а tradition in IT companies – to arrange daily internal meetings in the format of a stand-up or just a short meeting that are aimed to optimize work processes and synchronize the work of all team members. It is recommended to limit such meetings up to 15-20 minutes.

Agile development implies meetings as well. However, Scrum, Kanban or XP meetings differ and have their own characteristics (as well as project management methodologies differ themselves).

In this article, we describe the differences between Scrum and Kanban meetings and propose some arguments to support the importance of a Daily Stand Up.

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Any internal meeting is the element of company’s culture. It doesn’t matter what the purpose of the meeting is: to discuss the design of new furniture or iterations before the release of your product. It provides the principle of transparency.

It is unnecessary to simulate a great efficiency and to hold meetings as the formality. Status meetings should result in benefits as even 15 minutes of wasted working time for each participant may cost much for the company.

According to statistics, most daily meetings are scheduled for 11 am and 63% of them start without a prepared agenda. The employees themselves consider 33% of meetings ineffective.

Unfortunately, the last big figure can reach any company: from an “ancient” bureaucratic corporation to a young start-up.

In Agile-teams, the global meaning of the daily stand up meeting is reduced to quickly, qualitatively and reliably lead the tasks to their completion.

Project managers or product managers who often organize such meetings and care about how to avoid routine in tasks should constantly be aware of participants’ behavior. It’s crucial to eliminate the following roles inside the team:

  • “A pseudo work-addicted person”.  It is a very “busy” employee who comes with his/ her laptop because he/ she has dozens of important issues during the meeting.
  • “Sleeping with open eyes” person. The meeting for this team member is just a formality. It seems that he/ she listens but actually does not understand anything.
  • One who loves showing off. It is a very active employee, who likes to criticize and comment non-constructively, just so that everyone appreciates his active position.
  • “Self-PR maker”. He/ she always focuses on his/ her own work done and its global importance for the project or the product, without any benefits for a general discussion.
  • “Distracting” person – he/ she leaves the agenda and abruptly switches to another topic, for example, discussing the project budget.

 

What are the differences between daily meetings in Scrum and Kanban?

The Agile development methodologies differ not only in their essence but also in the daily meetings conducted by their teams.

The main goal of the daily Scrum stand up is tracking whether the team is able to execute all the iterations, or as early as possible identify the reasons why they cannot be executed. A stand up in Scrum is people-oriented. During the short meeting, team members share their results of the previous day and the current tasks’ statuses, giving the team a promise to do specific tasks this day. If there are any problems, they are also shared.

The goal of Kanban stand up is minimizing the time spent on the tasks at all its stages. Kanban meetings are not required but they can really influence the processes. The meeting is focused on a specific board and identifies the bottlenecks.

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  • A moderator assembles all the participants. Most often, this role is the honor of a project manager or a product manager.
  • The team focuses on a board. If the board is an online tool by any product management platform and the team is distributed in different places then a call is being organized.
  • The team explores tasks from right to left from the top to the bottom and the options for the soonest transferring to the next stage is discussed. Everyone may have a speech here.
  • The far right column is the completion of the work. The tasks that are closest to the completion are of high priority. The faster the task goes to the rightmost column, the less time it will take to work on it (lead time).

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  • The moderator clarifies what prevents you from moving a specific task to the done column. There are specific reasons and assumptions. If the task is blocked, it is marked and accompanied with a comment about why it was blocked. The tasks that were postponed are “sorted out” by the team members. Everyone takes tasks to move them to the next column by the next stand up.

So, the main difference is:

Scrum meeting focuses on people, Kanban Stand up focuses on tasks.

 

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The classic questions of the Scrum meeting can also be asked during the Kanban stand up, but with focusing on tasks as well:

  • What disturbs the progress.
  • How does the task progress in the flow?
  • What can be improved?

 

Is it difficult to change Daily Scrum to Daily Kanban?

The transition from a daily Scrum meeting to a more flexible Kanban stand up should not cause any difficulties. The discussion format is different but the result of time-saving becomes obvious very soon.

 

How to avoid delayed tasks?

First, it is important to understand why your tasks are delayed and make some efforts to effectively accelerate them. The reasons for the release “braking” tasks can be as follows:

  • Often, when the task has already reached the end, it loses its priority and the performer automatically switches to new tasks. That’s why this task, which has not been fully completed, can be delayed for a long time.
  • Often, many tasks are “stuck” during the approval stage by a product owner or a product manager. This happens because they can be simply busy and the current task remains a step away from the release. Frequent Kanban meetings help to see such unfinished tasks and bring them to the end.
  • The work fills the time allocated to it. All tasks will be located in any part of the board until the iteration is complete. Even if a certain task is done earlier, it may simply not reach the last stage. And since the goal of the Kanban stand up is to reduce the time spent working on the task, you should “push” the tasks up to the release.

 

How to optimize your meeting?

Every participant of daily stand up in Agile teams should be guided by certain rules that will help to avoid tasks routine:

  • Don’t be late. The fixed time for the internal meeting will eventually become something must-have  in team members’ schedules and will not be forgotten. This should be the responsibility of the moderator as well as organizing the meeting at the convenient time for everyone. In many IT companies, there is a punishment that can be realized as “to learn a poem by heart to the next stand up” or to add a small sum to the team “shared money” box.
  • Do not turn a stand up into long sessions or proceedings. The format of a short meeting in Kanban involves a quick discussion of business issues. Some creative teams “pass the word” to the next person with the help of a game ball, someone uses a microphone, and some crazy teams arrange the meeting using a special physical pose – plank hold (of course, by common consent).

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  • Leave all devices in your working room. Come empty-handed. In fact, 15 minutes meeting is enough for resting your eyes.
  • Do not solve global problems. A short stand up is not meant for big issues discussions. It is worth to appoint a separate time for them.
  • Do not report but share information. A Kanban stand up – is not a reporting to your manager but a common team meeting, so you need to share data with everyone.
  • Improve oratory skills. Avoid vague formulations and express your thoughts clear to everyone. It is often difficult to transform a complex tech story in a simple, accessible to everyone’s speech. Then it’s important to share the most important things, leaving all technical details.
  • Be prepared. Before the daily meeting, you need to know and clearly understand all statuses of your tasks.
  • Respect the audience. Do not interrupt and start discussing lifestyle issues after your turn to speak.

 

As a conclusion

Any productive stand up must end with fresh ideas, clear decisions and a short-term action plan. Product managers and all participants return to workplaces with a full understanding of their statuses as a whole project’s status. They make the necessary notes in their Kanban boards in the product management platform and start to think of the next day status meeting.

Do you pay enough attention to daily meetings in your Kanban team? How is your typical stand-up? Feel free to share your insights.

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