I experienced my first stand-up meeting when I was in ninth grade. I nervously sat and watched our team leaders stand and speak confidently about what they had accomplished in the past days. At the beginning of each after-school robotics session, our teacher would have each person on the team summarize what we were working on. We gave updates on how each subsystem of the robot was progressing, so everyone on the team had an idea of what was completed and what was still being worked on. The idea was to answer two questions: What did I accomplish yesterday? What will I accomplish today? For my first few meetings, I often had an air of panic as I struggled to set a goal for the day and hoped that what I did yesterday would be enough to impress my classmates. They weren't our favourite part of robotics, but it kept things moving on the team. However, as I progressed through high school, our stand-ups became less frequent, and our team began to lose interest in the meetings. We decided not to interrupt our work for the daily stand-up. Unfortunately, it was difficult to see the impact it had until our season was over. Our parts became more and more delayed, and we scrambled to put everything together in time for our final deadline.
Since the Taplytics team is expanding, incorporating stand-ups as part of our daily routines has made a huge impact. Every day at 10 am, our team starts the morning off with a quick stand-up. Each team member provides an update on what they accomplished yesterday, what they are working on today, and if there are any blockers in their way. Once complete, everyone is on the same page about each person’s priorities and his or her blockers can be addressed. You would also be surprised how often unanticipated suggestions from a team member can make your day a whole lot easier and can save you from heading in the wrong direction.
Many successful entrepreneurs talk a lot about goal setting and how it can be beneficial. Stand-up meetings have become my method of micromanaging goals. It gives me the opportunity to reflect on yesterday’s goal and set a goal for today. Not only does it force you to set a specific goal, but it also holds you accountable to your coworkers who are standing next to you. Even if your piece of the puzzle isn’t finished in time, having to share your progress with everyone around you gives you a very good reason to get it finished.
Most importantly, stand-ups are a time where we aren’t hidden behind our monitors all day. At this stage of the game, it’s pretty clear that proper communication can be tough, especially with a group of engineers. Being able to concentrate on your work is very valuable when it comes to software development. As a result, most of my day is spent facing a wall of code with Taylor Swift serenading my ears to block out the world around me. Many of my coworkers do the same. When it comes to little updates such as bug fixes, it’s rarely beneficial to update the entire office on your progress. Rather tapping everyone on the shoulder to tell them you’re limiting the query results to 200 rather than 50, I simply keep working away. Consequently, it’s difficult to know what everyone is working on and how far he or she has gotten. You may be waiting for one feature to be added in, but never know that it was completed. Our daily stand-ups let you know what to expect to be finished during the day and the person to ask if it isn’t.
For me, stand-ups have given me a nice start to each day. Although it may not seem like it, having everyone meet for a short time every day is often more effective than more meetings with fewer people. Even if it sounds disruptive, having everyone stop his or her work and talk for ten minutes can make your day tremendously productive.