How to update your daily standup for better results

Published on
January 25, 2023

The daily standup is a staple for most development teams. Every single day, millions of engineers, product managers and designers join a daily standup and share their progress and plans for the day. While daily standups have been a reliable source of communication for years, they’re starting to show their age.  It’s time to upgrade daily standup to keep up with the needs of your team.

In this article, we’ll discuss why your daily standup might need an upgrade and offer five simple suggestions to get better results. Plus, we'll explain how adding Spinach to your daily standup can help make your meetings more efficient and effective.

Why your daily standup might need an upgrade

Chances are, it's poorly facilitated

Most Product Managers and Tech Leads can tell you the best practices of a daily standup, but very few actually implement those best practices. Why? Because it takes effort and it's not a priority. You have a lot on your plate and "running a great standup" is likely toward the bottom of your list. But if you drop the ball on facilitation, the standup quickly becomes disorganized, unfocused, and a routine waste of time. Ultimately team alignment and velocity suffers.

It's become another status meeting

In a daily standup, the traditional questions are "What did you do yesterday?" "What do you plan to do today" and "Do you have any blockers?".  While there's nothing wrong with these well-intended questions, they can turn your standup into a status meeting. Many teams have gotten into a bad habit of sharing every single item they did or plan to do. This leads to irrelevant and repetitive information like "I have a meeting with Tom today" or "I'm still working on this feature". The purpose of daily standup isn't to account for every hour of the day, it's to share relevant changes since the last standup, align on priorities, and identify ways to support your team.

Timezones make it hard to coordinate

Thirty years ago, people worked a few feet from the rest of their team. In today's global workplace, teams are often spread out across the world, with members in different time zones. This makes it difficult to coordinate a daily standup time that works for everyone. While it may be 9am for you, it's 4pm for someone else which makes it sort of weird to ask "What do you plan to work on today?" Their day is nearly over. Global teams need flexibility.

You went all-in on async standup and it failed

To solve the timezone issues, many PMs and Tech Leads have tried moving their standup to async channels. But this only works if the whole team is committed to writing quality updates and reading the async posts. The reality is that most people won't do this. Everyone quickly becomes aware that no one is reading them. So quality and alignment degrades. Connection suffers. Response time is slow. What could have been a 15-minute meeting turns into an all-day thread on Slack. While it sounds good in theory, it doesn't always work out.

How to update your daily standup

1. Focus on one task you can complete

A bad habit we've fallen into with daily standup is sharing every task we plan to touch that day. Most tasks are completely irrelevant to the rest of the team, which causes people to tune out. There's also a good chance you won't finish all those tasks, and will likely share them again tomorrow. Repetitive updates lead to more tune out. Instead, try focusing on a single priority that you can accomplish (all the way through!) before the next standup. Not only does this encourage prioritization and focus, but it sets people up for success. And success is very motivating!

2. Don't spend time on yesterday

Another problem with traditional standup is that team members often spend a lot of time discussing what they did yesterday. Unless "what you did yesterday" came as a total surprise, there's a good chance you already talked about it in the last standup. When it comes to discussing progress, try to focus on any surprises that slowed you down yesterday or what has changed since the last standup.

3. Embrace meeting-free days

We hear from engineers that having a live standup every day can cause fatigue. If your daily standup becomes repetitive or the team isn't getting value from it every day, there's no harm in taking a day off! Share updates in Slack, or try which supports a hybrid of live and async standup.

4. Don't take your standup too seriously

Daily standup is supposed to be a short and efficient 15-minute meeting.  This timeline can create pressure to make standup "all business, no fun". But in a remote world, the daily standup might be the only face-to-face interaction some people get with the rest of the team. If you have a well facilitated standup, there's plenty of time to incorporate an icebreaker or a game. While you might be rolling your eyes, brain research shows that getting into a playful headspace helps boost creativity. Having fun also reminds us that we're humans first. This fosters the trust required to collaborate effectively as a team.

5. Check-in on the team mood

Great leaders know that work is about more than just the work. It's important to check-in on how your team is feeling. In the past, standups have focused solely on tasks, progress and plans.  But with burnout at an all time high, more teams are using their daily check-in to get a pulse on how people are feeling.  By taking the time to check-in on emotional wellbeing, you can ensure that team members are happy, healthy, and able to work effectively.

Need help implementing these ideas? Try

If you'd like to implement some of these ideas, but you're thinking "I don't have time for this", try Spinach is the only tool that lets you customize your daily standup questions, and then runs the live meeting for you.

  • Imagine a daily standup where everyone is prepared, concise, and engaged.
  • Best practices are automated, so you aren't burdened with facilitation.
  • Customize the standup questions to meet the specific needs of your team.
  • Get access to 1000s of icebreakers to make it fun.
  • A Mood Check feature to see how the team is feeling.
  • AI generated summary, actions, and ticket suggestions in Slack, Notion or Confluence.

Updating your daily standup can be a simple and effective way to improve your team's daily workflow and velocity. By focusing on one task for the day, not oversharing on yesterday, focusing on what has changed since the last standup, and checking-in on the team's feelings, you can create a more efficient and effective daily workflow that will help your team achieve more. With Spinach at your meetings, you get smart meeting notes, action items, and ticket suggestions to accelerate your team. This article is all about daily standups, but we built Spinach to supercharge all your team meetings, so you can focus on delivering results.

Ready to take your meetings to the next level? Get started with Spinach and watch your productivity soar. 🚀

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