Are your stand-ups becoming a daily chore from which you and your team gain minimal value? Do you find attendees’ attention lagging as the team reviews what they did yesterday and today? Does the daily stand-up not always make clear the critical risks and sprint status?

There are many reasons for ineffective stand-ups - e.g. poor moderation, lack of team commitment to stand-ups, and the lack of a clear format. But in many cases, there is a much simpler explanation: overuse of the three questions.

We all know the three questions: What did you do yesterday? What did you do today? What are your blocking issues?  I’m not entirely sure where they came from, but I suspect they originated from the first stand-up we held at Easel. The intent of these stand-ups was simple: improve cross-team communication and allow our project leader to understand how we were tracking toward release. Somewhere along the way though, we seem to have forgotten these simple goals and reverted to dogmatic adherence to the questions.

I’ve found a simple change to stand-ups can help tighten the format: drive them from the storyboard. The storyboard reflects your commitments for the current sprint and the work the team must execute to be successful. Each team member can and still should answer the three questions in reviewing their stories on the board, but with two simple rules: they must provide status of all their stories (even ones not yet started), and cannot provide status for work outside of what is on the board.

By freeing yourself of the three questions, you can inject a renewed purpose back into your stand-ups. It will also often improve your ability to identify and manage project risks, and ensure the team remains focused on its primary purpose: to ship software.

Related Posts: 8 Lessons From the First Scrum Team, The First Stand-up