It’s common to think of agile project management methods such as Scrum and Kanban as being exclusively for web and software developers. While indeed these methods have their roots in software development and are particularly useful for teams working on web-based projects, agile is also a mindset meant to cultivate collaboration and self-organisation within teams. The truth is that whether you work in finance or HR, in the public or private sector, for just about any process-based job where teamwork and goals are essential for optimised output, agile practices can help your team achieve results.
A great example of this is a daily standup. Sometimes referred to as a daily scrum, the standup is a short meeting where the project team gathers together at a designated place to briefly announce their achievements, goals, and obstacles. The standup, which should last no more than 15 minutes, asks each team member to answer the following questions:
- What did I accomplish yesterday?
- What will I do today?
- What obstacles are standing in my way?
All members of the group are expected to participate and to briefly address the three points. Participants are not meant to comment, just listen. The standup is not the moment to solve problems, but to identify completed tasks, objectives, and potential roadblocks in a group setting. Regardless of the project or field, this daily practice has several advantages that can help produce results for any team:
When you tell your team you’ll do something, it’s harder to say tomorrow that you haven’t done it. Standups are about making commitments to your team members and to yourself. This helps the entire organisation by having a daily reminder of all the people and tasks that make the company function. By enabling daily and transparent communication between team members, you help them stay accountable to themselves and to one another.
Announcing what you have achieved the previous day allows both you and your team recognise your achievements, and those of the team as a whole. When you try to think of all the things you did yesterday, you might be surprised at how much you’ve accomplished! It also helps with putting your achievements into perspective and boosting motivation: did I actually achieve what I wanted to? If not, how can I make sure that I do achieve it next time? Asking yourself these questions daily allows you to celebrate success while always striving to do better.
As the workday begins, it’s easy to just jump into tasks in no particular order, or to lose yourself in the minutia of details without looking at the bigger picture. When you have to vocalize your tasks and listen to those of others, it’s much easier to plan your day and stay focused on how you are contributing to the larger goals of the team.
Identifying problems quickly
A daily meeting where problems and roadblocks are defined and discussed allows the team lead or other team members to solve them quickly and effectively. By asking people to identify potential problems, team members are empowered to identify issues that they didn’t notice before, or were too shy to mention. If impediments are defined and isolated, the team can meet directly after the standup and come up with resolutions, avoiding that small problems become too big to fix.
If your colleagues know what you’re working on and struggling with, they’re likely to jump in and see how they can help. Since everyone on a team participates in the standup, it helps dismantle hierarchies by allowing everyone from the team lead to the entry-level employee to meet on an equal playing field. Whatsmore, some teams are quite large or have a members who rotate in and out, so a daily standup can help keep members acquainted with the team members and their individual projects. The more unified and connected your team is, the better off the project will be.
There are lots of variations of the standups, and it’s worth testing out a few models to see what’s right for your team. If you’re working in remote teams, a daily standup via video chat can be a particularly helpful tool for staying connected to your team, increasing their performance, and instilling in them a sense of community. Regardless of how or where you organise them, standups are a great way for teams to cultivate a shared sense of goals, celebrate improvements and tackle problems together.