5 ways to wake up your standups

Don't let standups go stale. The Childcare Development Squad share 5 experiments that worked for us.

Standups can go stale

No one means it to happen, but with lots of things in flight in can be too easy to go through the motions.

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Signs you’ve let your standup go stale
- recapping on items from your todo list when there’s nothing new to share
- spilling over 5-10 minutes
- leaving unsure of what to prioritise (or even what to do)
- missing sprint/weekly goals - or hitting them early and not setting a new one
- not really listening to the other updates as they usually don’t impact you

We felt this creeping up on us.

In our squad standup we typically ‘walk the board’, running through newly completed tasks, recapping what’s in progress, then landing on what’s next. If you don’t do this, give it a whirl - it’s good for getting a team to think about shared responsibilities across a range of tickets rather than focussing on the individual.

However our standups were starting to feel dull - and non-engineer tasks were getting a bit lost in the realm of ‘up next’.  Time to mix it up. It’s worth remembering that variety in itself helps, so make sure to mix it up and find a balance that makes your squad tick.

Our top picks

🕺 Actually. Standing. Up

Obvious but true. The sentiment of making a meeting last no longer than you’re willing to stand is a good one - if you’re like me, your restless legs will tell you when you’ve overrun.

Standing also gets the blood flowing just enough to make you feel a tiny bit more energised.

💡 Prompts

Using a set of prompts (which we change each day) gets us to think about what we’re doing from new angles. We’re tired of the classic “what I did, what I plan to do, any blockers” routine, so went in search of fresh ideas.

These are some of our favourites, but we also found this blog a super helpful resource.

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Today I plan on working on...
(Optional) It's important for others to know that...
(Optional) After standup/later I'll like to talk more about...

Today I'm going to...
(Optional) I'm going to help move something stuck on the board by...
(Optional) The thing that is slowing me down/blocking me is....

Today I'm going to help us get to our goal by ... I feel .... about our goal (Optional) I also wanted to share that…

Today I'm going to crush it by...
(Optional) Yesterday I changed the world by...
(Optional) I'm going to blast through any obstacles unfortunate enough to be standing in my way by...

Today I’m going to finish off the week strong by…
Something I’m proud of is/Something I loved about this week is…
(Optional) something I wanted to mention…

☝️ Emotional checkin

This is us (cute, right?) giving a quick finger-vote on how we’re feeling today.

finger-voting

Sometimes we might comment to explain, or bring it up in a retro if we’re going through a low and we need to make a change, but mostly it takes a few seconds and gives us an instant read of the room. Makes me happy ✋

🎵 Just a little alarming

Okay, this one’s just me. Here’s what happens: 9:27, finish whatever I’ve been up to, think ‘do I have time for a cup of tea?’. Boil kettle. 9.31, scrabbling to load up zoom.

Being a few minutes late repeatedly is forcing my squad to hang around waiting for me. We should be starting on time, diving in on the dot.

My phone now peals with catchy jingles 2 minutes before, dragging me back to my screen just in time.

⚡ Standup plannings

We keep a really tight planning cycle. Really tight. So sometimes after a particularly successful day, the ‘Up next’ part of our board can empty out.

Enter the Standup Planning: A deep-dive into the next un-groomed ticket (or setting of a new goal), a brainstorm around the problems we’ll need to solve. Finish up with a freshly-informed standup. “I know what I’m doing today, because we’ve got a plan, and it’s clear what I need to do right now to move it forward.”

Don’t overthink it

While it’s always great to pool fun ideas in your squad, you don’t need to spend hours debating or set anything in stone. Agree to some variety, then let your sweeper pick out whichever patterns they think might work for the week. Don’t forget to call out the bits that worked well in your retro, it’ll help the whole squad learn the patterns that fit you best.


Author

This post is written by Isabel Cooper, an engineer in the Childcare Development squad at Koru Kids.