Perfecting the Agile Marketing Standup
Agile Marketing teams meet daily with a focus on maintaining momentum for all team members on all tasks.
The meeting, usually at the start of the day, includes all active members of the Agile Marketing team and should take 15-20 minutes max to complete.
This meeting is usually titled the Daily Standup, or Daily Scrum, and is facilitated by an individual whose primary responsibility is to enable successful and ongoing productivity from the Agile Marketing team – usually called the ScrumMaster.
The whole team stands during the meeting, and the goal should be to progress through as quickly as possible, enabling the team to get back to the task at hand. In this meeting the key focus is to understand:
1. What was achieved yesterday?
2. What the plan is for today?
3. What obstacles stand in the way of progress?
That’s it. Extremely focussed and extremely efficient – and built around the simple construct of commit-do-report. The daily Standup is in essence a tool to empower ongoing productivity and effectiveness and allowing – given that what gets measured gets done – a team committed to Agile ways of working to demonstrate its desire for ownership and accountability on a daily basis.
However there is always an opportunity to optimise the effectiveness of the Standup and a number of different ways to cut how the session is structured. The biggest difference being whether the Standup centres around people or tasks.
Focus on People or Focus on Tasks?
Agile teams whose primary function is the development of software tend to be focussed around the individual. Agile development teams are often working on one product and common set of features – so the shared understanding of any particular work effort is high. In this instance the updates shared in the Standup will be focussed on the individual.
Agile Marketing teams however maybe be focussed on a number of quite different tasks ranging from content production, online advertising, email marketing, website updates etc. – meaning not all members of the team are working on the same tasks, so there is less of an inherent understanding of what each member of the team is working on. In this scenario you might find it more effective to focus updates on the individual tasks within your Sprint – and by sharing an update on each task every 24 hours, you’ll have more of a chance of maintaining momentum across the board and ensuring tasks don’t get lost or overlooked.
Keep a track on the degree of separation amongst teams and look to switch your focus from task to people, or people to task as required.
Why Stand Up?
There are heaps of productivity studies to support standing in meetings, but also some interesting science.
Stand up meetings are 33% shorter than sitting and more likely to end early – less time in meetings means more time (and energy) in doing. Plus, standing ramps up your metabolism and promotes an increased sense of alertness – never a bad thing.
If you have team members who are not colocated, then encourage them to conference in as individuals from their own workstations rather than via one camera – you’ll feel closer as a team. But do ask that they stand, you want to try to instil the same psychology whether the team member is present in your room or their own.
The Daily Standup is Not:
It’s not a status meeting – there are many tools, both technology based (Trello etc.) and physical (Post Its and whiteboards) to help you keep track of progress throughout a Sprint. There’s no need to waste time reviewing this daily. Everyone in the team should have a clear understanding of how things are progressing from interacting with these tools on a daily basis.
A technical discussion – a multidisciplinary, colocated team will be in constant communication throughout the day, tackling problems and discussing the technical aspects of delivery ongoing. Discourse on the appropriate approach, platform or solution isn’t for the Standup.
A forum for problem solving – as above. Working together throughout the day provides the forum to solve problems, so avoid the temptation to get into tackling the problems in
the Standup – even if you think it will be a quick discussion, it won’t be a discussion that necessarily involves everyone, so you will waste people’s time.
A planning meeting – planning takes place in the Sprint planning meeting. If you are finding the need to plan mid-Sprint, then you need to give some attention to improving the effectiveness of your Sprint planning sessions.
A field trip – offsite meetings are great for planning and helpful when you need to take inspiration to help reframe problems. The daily Standup isn’t the time for field trips. Stay close to home – in fact just standing up at your desks is as good as anywhere, as you’ll be close to your tools and resources
An opportunity to gripe – things don’t always go to plan, but try to not let frustration creep into your Standup. Barriers can be professionally and courteously described without bringing the mood down and impacting negatively on the team’s collective morale and motivation.
It’s Far From Over When it’s Over.
Taking a retrospective view of each Sprint and looking for ways to improve the way you work is critical to improving your performance as a team over time. You should apply the same thinking to the way you manage your daily Standups – regularly looking at their effectiveness together in the Sprint Review and generating ideas for improvements which can be tested in subsequent Sprints, testing and learning as you go.
You’ll stay sane by limiting the number of ideas you test at any one point – test a single enhancement at a time and see how you go.
Do this and you’ll find that there is no perfect Agile Marketing Standup, it just keeps gets better.
Space66 is out to change the way that brands and digital production companies work together. Demystify the craft, expedite delivery, save you money and most importantly improve the performance of your communications.
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