Standup Is About Commitment, Not About “Giving Status” – The Story Continues…

In honour of Coaching Agile Teams (@CoachAgileTeams) generous cross post of my tiny blog, I thought that it would be worth putting together a follow-up to the original post Standup Is About Commitment, Not About “Giving Status”.

As you can well imagine, the story for my team didn’t end with reformulating the Standup as a commitment based meeting.  Here’s a sampling of some of some changes we’ve made to this meeting that have helped to keep us accountable…

1. We renamed “Standup” to “Team Commitment Checkpoint”.  Which sounds trivial, but it helped us to reconnect with the idea of commitment on a daily basis.

2. We mixed up the order of “who speaks next” and even allowed for “anyone to speak first”.  Previously, we would stand in a circle and take turns. Starting with the person next to the “highest ranking leader” and ending with this “highest ranking leader”. We used different techniques for this… from tossing a ball around to clapping and pointing to calling out the next person’s name. At first the team felt a bit self conscious and silly doing this but something interesting emerged from this simple self-organizing technique. It helped to create a shift in focus. One day, people stopped “talking to the leader” and started “talking to each other”.

3. We challenged our engaged listening skills with an exercise. First we would go through each person’s commitment(s) for the day, then we would go through the whole process again; in the same order, only this time we would verbalize the commitment of the person who spoke before us. Initially this created some stress on the team but, as we worked through the exercise together, we learned to relax and work together to remember what everyone committed to for the day.

4. We are currently in the process of connecting with what makes a “good commitment” and are aiming to develop a few protocol checks to ensure that we are all making “good commitments” on a daily basis. Maybe there’s a future blog post in that… stay tuned.

One more thing…  every day during Team Commitment Checkpoint (or TCC as we have come to call it), I make a point of sharing an “Agile Moment” with the team.  Often these are small quotes or “aha-moments” that I have had as I connect with the Agile community around the world on a daily basis.

Initially I was pleasantly surprised to note that the team seemed to appreciate these small gifts from the world of Agile… getting a few nods and the odd: “Nice”.  As time went on, I even got a few questions and the occasional: “I’d like to talk about that some more after this meeting”. Then, one day, I received the biggest gift of all from a team mate: “You know, I’m trying to put the Agile Moment you gave yesterday into practice…”

And so in turn, to the Agile community out there around the world and to my wonderful fellow team mates…   thank you for being such a source of inspiration and for helping to put these Agile moments into practice 🙂

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?

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?