Meetings, meetings, meetings. Some see them as a productivity tool, while for others, they are yet another distraction from the real work at hand.

The difference ultimately comes down to how you put them into perspective.

Before we delve into the nature of daily standup meetings, let’s clarify what they are not.

The daily standup meeting isn’t a status report meeting. It’s not about going through each person one by one and asking about their tasks or discussing the status of ongoing work.

Why?

Because the team doesn’t gain much from those discussions. Plus, it’s your board that effectively communicates that information.

So, what is the daily call then?

The Purpose of the Daily Standup Meeting

The standup serves a straightforward purpose: managing the flow of work.

What does this mean?

It means focusing discussions on work items that face risks of delay, are blocked, stuck, or artificially aging in your process.

Then, the team collectively determines the best course of action to enable the flow of work again. That’s the gist of it.

And if there are no such tasks, it’s an excellent opportunity to allow everyone to get back to their work.

As an agile coach, you’d like to consistently remind everyone that the main goal is to deliver results.

So, if the primary focus is delivering results, is this the best time to discuss upcoming tasks? If there are blocked work items aging in the process – do you just leave them be due to factors beyond your control or constant shifts in priorities?

You don’t.

Because starting new work makes little sense if you’re not delivering results. And letting work linger in your workflows is not helping you achieve your objective either.

So, in your next daily call, sit down with your team (yes, feel free to sit!) and brainstorm what can be done to enable the work to move forward.

Can you involve more people in the conversation? Can you escalate the problems? If the work no longer provides value, should you discard it and analyze the reasons behind it?

If you don’t have enough information to complete your tasks, how can you prevent this from happening again? Perhaps specifying a Definition of Done (DoD) checklist on the card and ensuring it doesn’t enter the process without sufficient information is a solution.

If the work is sitting idle due to someone being on leave, can another team member step in to complete it?

Remember, the main goal is to manage the flow of work so you can deliver results. So what can you do to achieve that goal?

How to Plan the Work for the Day Using Flow Metrics

This is the Aging Chart of a development team of 3 people. The colored zones in the chart are called health zones and they represent how much time your previous tasks have taken to move through each process state.

The red zone represents the time 95% of your completed work items needed to move to the next step.

Aging Chart by Nave: Example of how to turn Meetings into outcome-driven events

Use the Aging Chart by Nave to turn your Daily Standup Meetings into outcome-driven events. Start your free trial now

For this team, the only focus of the daily call is discussing the two items above, which have taken much longer than 95% of everything else that has been finished so far. And the conversation should really be about: “Is there anything we, as a team, can do to enable them to move further?”.

Identify what’s causing the work to get stuck and take action. The outcome of the meeting must be to come up with a concise action plan.

For example, if a work item is blocked, what needs to happen to unblock it, and who is accountable for that action? If there is aging work waiting to be handled, who will start working on it?

Here is your action item: Introduce the Aging Chart to your daily meetings and start making reasonable conversations as early as tomorrow morning. Write down a few bullet points, keep it to a maximum of three so you can keep the entire team focused on the most pressing issues that are slowing you down.

The next day, start the meeting by following up with the action plan. Then, repeat the process.

Always aim to identify opportunities for improvement and take action.

With every situation you go through, ask yourself: What’s the lesson here? How can we prevent this from happening again?

I live by this belief – there’s no such thing as failure; it’s either success or a lesson learned.

So, how can you leverage the situation to improve the way you manage your work?

Encourage your teams to ask that same question over and over again until it becomes second nature.

And remember, it’s not about individuals; it’s about the system you build, the management practices you adopt, and the culture you cultivate.

I wish you a productive week ahead and I’ll see you next Thursday, same time and place. Bye for now!

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