Standup Is About Commitment, Not About “Giving Status”

One of the many moments of clarity that I’ve had thanks to Lyssa Adkins (Twitter: @lyssaadkins Web: http://www.coachingagileteams.com/) is the goal behind the Standup meeting.

Standup is about commitment, not about “giving status”.

Armed with this new understanding, I facilitated a Standup meeting “reboot experiment” with my team. We started by talking about what wasn’t working with this meeting and then worked together to develop some new guidelines centered around the idea of commitment.

Now, during Standup…

We each take a turn to express what we will commit to completing between this meeting and the next.

When we aren’t speaking, we commit to listening fully to the person speaking.

We will speak up if we have information that would help the person speaking meet their commitment. Creating this connection is important… but having the full conversation may not…  so we commit to identifying side conversations when they happen.

We are committed to keeping the information shared relevant for all. We ask questions if a team member’s commitment is unclear.

We regularly check-in on the value and relevance of the meeting and re-commit as needed.

It’s worth noting that we don’t generally discuss “blockers” here, mostly because the team is empowered to seek help if they encounter an impediment rather than wait for a meeting. We also don’t generally talk about what we did in the past unless we feel it to be relevant information for the team.

Could your Standup meeting do with a little more commitment?

Agile and Quality

You may have noticed that the Agile Manifesto (http://agilemanifesto.org/) never uses the word “quality” as part of its core values. I believe this is because quality is an underlying value to the Manifesto and that “working software”, “customer collaboration”, “responding to change” as well as “individuals and interactions” are all pointing us in the direction of quality.

Looking at it this way, quality is not a role but a core value and occurs when the team…

…works with users to understand how the software can meet their needs
…gathers to review and evaluate stories
…works together on code and design
…collaborates to create automated tests
…explores the application for unexpected issues
…validates its work with users

As such, quality is expressed through the collective attention and effort of the whole Agile team throughout the cycle.

Improv and the Agile Team

While at Agile Coach Camp Canada in Toronto last month, I had the priviledge of learning about how Improv can help the team’s Agility from Todd Charron (Twitter: @toddcharron  Web: http://www.planningforfailure.com).

This was the first time that I made the connection between Agile and Improv… and it was one of those ah-ha moments for me.

Good team mates learn when it’s time to speak and when it’s time to let someone else speak. They learn to explore ideas “thrown at them” from their fellow team mates and seek to build on those ideas. Good team mates understand and appreciate the connection that they have with each other. They make room for vulnerability. They trust and support each other.

They are fearless when they are together.

In the spirit of beginning…

It seems apt, as this is my first post, to take a moment to simply acknowledge the spirit of beginning.

Beginnings are full of anticipation and promise.  Full of potential and opportunity.  Looking forward to something new and revealing, beginnings are full of creative energy.

I’d like to extend this idea to the rituals Agile teams experience regularly.  Thinking about “stand-ups”, “planning meetings” and “retrospectives”, what would change if we approached these gatherings in the spirit of beginning?