May 042017

Why Our Executive Team Does Daily Standup Meetings

Another CEO with whom I trade notes on the craft of running a company asked me this question the other day, and I thought the answer would make a for a good blog post.  Any product team (or other kind of team) who has Agile practices, does some kind of a Daily Standup (DSU) meeting in which each team member reviews progress against goals for a given period and highlights issues where he or she is blocked and needs help.  I wrote about Return Path‘s journey to implement Agile across the whole company last year here.

My meeting routines have been shaped over the years but the current versions are largely influenced by Lencioni’s Death by Meeting, which is worth a read. My blog post isn’t all that helpful about this specific subject, but it’s here.  Anyway…here’s what I wrote to my friend:

I love our DSU. We do it at 11 eastern because we have people in Colorado and California on it. We just make the time. We block 15 minutes, but most people block the full :30 and sometimes a small sub group will need to stay late to cover something in more depth (we call that the after-party or the 16th minute). If I had everyone in the same time zone, I would do it at 8:30 or 9:00. 

We usually just “run the calendar” at the DSU. What’s everyone doing today, anything notable from yesterday, anything people need broader quick hit updates on, especially things that are cross-team. It’s great daily connectivity. We have tried to run the exec team like a true agile team in the past with cards and demos, etc., but that didn’t really work other than the occasional time when all of us were working on something together (e.g. Annual budgeting and planning), since a lot of our work as leaders is down, not across. 

We do the meeting Tuesday through Friday. We probably cancel 1 a week on average if too many people have to miss it. People know it’s a priority and not to schedule over it unless unavoidable, but sometimes travel, client conflicts, etc. invade. 

Mondays we still do our Weekly Tactical for an hour. I have a whole standing agenda format for that (as well as our Monthly Strategies for 2-3 hours and Quarterly Offsites for a couple days). I find that the Weekly Tactical actually goes much better with the four DSUs because we don’t have to spend time checking in on the basics…so we are much more effective in using that time on bigger items like sales forecast and recruiting review, progress against major initiatives and OKRs, having other people come in and present things to us, etc. 

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