Standup isn’t about what you say, it’s about what you hear

Because of some meetings, I missed our company wide standup for 3 straight days, finally attending again yesterday afternoon. I realized how important it is, and how much I missed it.

I don’t think anyone missed my contributions, but I missed hearing what everyone else was working on. A few statistics will explain. We have roughly 20 people participating in Standup. It’s almost always over in 10 minutes. That means you’re speaking for 30 seconds, and listening for 9:30.

That’s a pretty big listening to speaking ratio. And, that’s the important value in the company wide standup. The real value is listening to what everyone else is doing, and contributing help where you can.

Mary and Tom Poppendieck use the phrase “optimize the whole” to describe the importance of seeing the big picture, and making that better, even if it costs more locally. That’s a good way to look at standup: If you spend 30 minutes to save another project team hours, that helps optimize the whole. We’re all the better for it. Of course, one day, some one else will probably be able to save you hours by spending 30 minutes helping you.

That’s why we have continued these company wide standups, even though we have grown to the point where we now have anywhere from 5 to 10 projects running concurrently. That cross-project communication helps all our projects. It’s also one way to evaluate readiness for leadership roles: Participating across projects, and outside your own tasks shows that global view that is necessary for taking on more of a leadership role.

Created: 8/1/2011 2:10:11 PM

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