How to get the most out of Stand-Up Meetings

A few lessons learned on keeping Stand-Up Meetings brief and to the point.


Stand-Up Meetings are a great tool to get everyone in your team up to speed and to enable collaboration. This makes them one of the most important regular activities of software teams.

But they only work well if people can attend them without falling asleep. Iterating over what everyone got done … is currently working on … and is planning to work on in the near future can get very repetitive after a while.

Here are a few tips that can help you to get the most out of your Stand-Up meetings …

Add a Kanban Board

A great way to improve the quality and speed of your meetings is by adding a Kanban Board. It shows you who is working on what & where a certain feature is in your development process.

A Kanban Board also easily lets you spot bottlenecks. For example if a person is working on too many things at the same time or whether making progress on a certain feature is blocked.

This is how a Kanban Board looks like in Blossom

Holding Stand-Up meetings without a Kanban Board is a lot like playing chess blindfolded. You can do it, but I find it way more challenging.

Whether you work remotely and hold your Stand-Ups on Google Hangout or with everyone in the same room it really helps to actually be able to see what’s currently going on.

Focus on Blockers

Making progress on a certain feature can be blocked by various reasons. Sometimes you depend on external companies, or input from a colleague. Other times you might have discovered a nasty edge case and need to find an elegant workaround.

But whatever the reason might be for a blocker, not resolving them can become very expensive. Often they are the reason why features get shipped way later than what would have been possible.

Identifying blockers is one of the most valuable activities of Stand-Up Meetings

There is a lot of opportunity to save time and resources by getting aware of blockers and what is causing them. Often they can be resolved fairly quickly once they are escalated or understood well enough.

I remember many cases where I was blocked by issues with 3rd party libraries that we could resolve in an instant because a colleague has seen and worked through very similar issues before. Stand-Ups are a brilliant way to share and potentially resolve issues that could otherwise suck up hours or days of your time.

Blockers are clogging your gears and keep you from going full speed ahead. This makes them one of the most valuable bits of information you can share during a Stand-Up meeting.

Use Group Chat Software

Especially for distributed teams group chat software is the virtual equivalent of a water cooler. Tools like HipChat and Flowdock are a great way to keep everyone up to date.

A lot of the information that used to be shared only during Stand-Up meetings or coffee breaks can now easily be shared asynchronously using group chat as well. This makes meetings way more efficient as everyone in your team already has a lot more context going into them.

On top of that group chat tools usually offer an API for integrations with other services. In our case this allows us to post important updates from Blossom directly into our group chat.

An example of how Blossom integrates with Atlassian’s HipChat

Manage Meeting Scope & Duration

It is really easy to run over time with Stand-Up Meetings. When you give updates on certain issues or raise awareness about a blocker it is really tempting to get into details right away.

This is a great opportunity to keep the meeting efficient. Make sure to keep the scope of the Stand-Up down to the bare essentials of getting everyone onto the same page. Remind people to take conversations offline if necessary.

The famous StarWars Death Star briefing scene.

Having someone who is responsible for facilitating/moderating the Stand-Up really helps a lot to help everyone stay energized. It doesn’t even have to be the Product Manager, for example some teams appoint a different facilitator every time they hold a Stand-Up. This also helps to avoid the typical ‘reporting’ — atmosphere that can emerge when the Product Manager moderate every Stand-Up.

Feel free to play around with different Stand-Up formats and see what works best for your team. Check out Jason Yip’s tutorial on Stand-Up Meetings.

In the end Stand-Up meetings are most efficient when they allow you to focus on the things that everyone needs to be aware of without getting too long and tiresome.

If you found this post helpful you might want to follow me on twitter where I tweet about Software Development & Product Management :)

Also make sure to check out Blossom an Agile/Lean Project Management Tool I’m currently working on ☺