I think the daily stand-up is one of the most important parts that makes a team work well together and avoid surprises. But just because you have these daily meetings it does not guarantee that they’re useful. A few anti-patterns I’ve seen in meetings are when people say things like “I’m working on some stuff” or “I’m still working on item 42“. Statements like that are not really useful. Another anti-pattern is when problems or blocking issues don’t boil up to the surface even though they exist just because people have over confidence in them selfs (or are afraid of admitting they have a problem).
There are a number of things you can do (one example). I think the most important thing is that the team find the meeting useful. And I hope the things I find useful are things most people find useful so these are my suggestions on how to keep the daily meeting valuable.
- What did you do yesterday? I think this is the least important information. I don’t mean useless. Just least important. Unless there is some significant impact affecting the team I think this question can be answered with “did everything I was supposed to do yesterday” and/or telling the team what you planned to do that did not happen. At least detail is seldom of importance for completed work in my opinion.
- What are you doing today? Here you have two alternatives depending on what is important to the team. If things tend to take longer than expected I think a go thing is to rephrase the question to “What is your goal today?“. On the other hand, if the team wants to make it easier to identify tasks one person is doing that can be aided by somebody else you want everybody to give more detail on what they’re actually doing. Examples: I’m going to implement data access for module X. I’m investigating how to implement Y.
By being more detailed there is a bigger chance of somebody picking up the fact that they’re know something that is of value to the other person. And that is a good thing IMHO.
- Are you blocked on anything? This is a standard question I really like to change. In my experience if you ask everybody “What is your biggest problem right now” because I think it’s easier (psychologically) to always say your biggest problem rather than saying what’s blocking you. Also the fact that you have to say something in many cases helps you remember things you are blocked on (or things just taking longer than expected which also is a kind of blocking).
Those are the important things. If you stand up or not is a matter of taste (but standing up tends to be faster). Starting on time however is important. But I don’t really believe in fines. Hopefully the shame/peer pressure of being late is enough to get people into the meeting on time.