Daily stand-up with a goal

Sept 22, 2013  ·  Sandy Mamoli

Why your daily standup should be driven by a daily goal

Let’s face it, the daily standup can be a boring affair. I’m not talking about abominations with 16 people or half-hour long status reporting meetings. I’m talking about the ones that are kind of okay and adhere to the rules but nonetheless are a bit boring and lack focus and enthusiasm.

The point of the daily standup is not to rattle off what you did yesterday, what you’re planning to do today and if you have any blockers. The point is to decide, as a team, what each of you can do to make this an awesome and productive day that helps you get closer to building something great.

I’d like to share a technique that I have used during the past year to help teams increase focus and clarity of purpose during the day: The daily goal.

What is the daily goal?

Surprisingly enough, the daily goal is a goal the team aims to achieve by the end of the day.

I usually introduce it by asking people during the daily standup to define a goal that would make them go home at the end of the day thinking they have had a productive and meaningful day. I ask people to imagine that it is the end of the day and what, as a team, would have made them happy to have achieved.

Examples of daily goals are:

  • Finish user story 3

  • Get story 1 into test

  • Automate testing for story 5

  • Know how to deploy the migration

  • Design concepts for search agreed

  • Smash story 1 and 2

  • Ship to Apple

Goals that involve everyone’s work are by far the best and I strongly encourage everyone to define the goal as a team goal. Unfortunately that’s not always possible, so if we can’t define a goal where everyone is hands-on involved we are pragmatic about it and just pick the most important thing for the team for the day.

How does it work?

We usually define the daily goal either at the beginning or at the end of the daily standup; depending on mood and team preference. We always make sure that the goal is aspirational and not just a list of individual tasks, and that we can determine at the end of the day whether or not we have achieved it.

When we find it hard to come up with a goal for the day usually the question “At the end of the day when you go home - what would make you happy?” works really well.

By its very nature the daily goal is the most important thing for the day. Therefore most teams have a ground rule that it trumps everything else during the day and everyone working on a task that directly supports the daily goal has the power to interrupt other people’s work and to divert their efforts towards achieving the daily goal.

Why does it work?

For people to work as a team and to truly collaborate they need to have clarity of purpose and a shared, compelling goal. I often find that visions for teams, products, waves, and, if you're running SCRUM, sprints - while working really well - can sometimes seem far in the future.

Adding a short-term goal for the day adds this clarity of purpose to everything we do on a daily basis. Shared goals work well and shared daily goals work well, too.

Also, as a coach I find the focus, clarity and purpose that agreeing on a daily goal generates extremely helpful when working on building Agile teams as it helps people practice collaborating towards a shared goal more often and to gather feedback on team collaboration more frequently.

What do we do with past daily goals?

We usually put the day’s goal in a special place on our task boards as a reminder during the day.

We start our standups by assessing whether we have achieved yesterday’s goal and put a visible check or cross on the sticky note before placing it on the past timeline.

What next?

The daily goal has worked really well for me for more than a year and has been taken up by the 10 teams I have coached during that time.

I recommend trying it out and would love to hear what you think and how it works for you. I might be stating the obvious but it's of course irrelevant whether you're running SCRUM, Kanban or Borkiborki; the point is that small daily goals for a team are good for your focus and team spirit.

Last but not least, don’t give up if it doesn’t work right away - some of my teams abolished and then re-introduced it when they had got the hang of working towards a shared goal.

Categories: Agile Coaching.

Tags: Agile, Agile coaching, Daily Standup, Scrum, Team.