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Product Management
July 2

How to Run an Impressive Kanban StandUp Meeting?

Daily internal meetings in the format of stand-up or just a short team's gathering are aimed to optimize work processes and synchronize work. The tradition to arrange such 15-20 minutes meetings has been firmly established in the activities of most modern businesses. Agile development teams also practice these everyday meetings. However, Kanban, Scrum, or XP meetings differ and include their own rules and principles.

Here you'll find some essential arguments to support the importance of daily Kanban meetings. We'd like to share our thoughts about the main concept of Kanban meetings, their value for the workflow and tips on how to hold them properly.

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It may seem that running a daily Kanban meeting is not a great talent. It looks simple, like any another meeting. However, project managers will probably insist that this everyday event is must have and it's worth to be run as it can be considered as one of the important product management “levers”.

First, it's important to admit that any internal meeting is one of the core elements of a company’s culture. No matter what the agenda of the meeting is: to discuss the new welcome email design or planning a new product feature, — it's aimed to provide transparency.

Do not simulate efficiency and to do not run the meeting as the formality. You'll need not more than 15 minutes every day, so be sure to spend time productively because even this wasted working time for each team member may cost much for your company.

Practice shows that most daily stand up meetings are scheduled for 11-12am. What is rather surprising — over 60% of them start without a prepared agenda.

If return to Agile-teams reality, then the core sense of daily meetings is to quickly, reliably and qualitatively lead all the tasks to their completion.

Project managers (sometimes product managers or business owners) who often organize such meetings care about how to avoid routine in tasks and willing to be aware of participants’ behavior and current stuff.

Unwelcomed meeting participants


There are rather harmful and somehow dangerous roles that should be eliminated:

  • A pseudo-work-addicted team member” who always seems to be extremely busy. They usually come with a laptop because have dozens of critical challenges to solve during the meeting.
  • "A person is used to show off" — probably the most active employee ever, who likes to criticize and comment non-constructively. Their main goal is to make everyone appreciate their active position.
  • A sleeping with open eyes” who participates just because the meeting is the formality. They listen attentively but actually do not understand anything.
  • A distracter” — a team member who easily leaves the meeting agenda and abruptly can switch to another topic.
  • A self-PR maker” who is mostly focused on the own work done and its global importance for the product or entire company.

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Often, people do not differentiate daily meetings in Kanban and Scrum. Here're the key differences:

Kanban and Scrum meetings


The main thing is: Scrum meeting focuses on people, Kanban Stand up focuses on tasks.

Popular Agile methods differ in the daily arranged meetings conducted by their teams.

  • A Scrum meeting is aimed to track whether the team is able to execute all the iteration. It also helps to identify the reasons why they cannot be executed (if so) as early as possible. During the short meeting, participants share their results of the previous day and their current tasks’ statuses. They give each other promises to perform specific tasks this day. The possible challenges are also shared.
  • A Kanban daily stand up meeting focuses on minimizing the time spent on the tasks at all its stages. Often, such a meeting is not required but it can significantly influence work processes. The discussions usually run around a specific board and identify current bottlenecks.


Daily Kanban meeting: how does this usually happen?


  • There is a moderator who assembles all the participants together. This role typically performs a product manager.
  • The team focuses on a Kanban board that can be visualized as a physical whiteboard or presented with the help of Kanban-like project management tool. If team members are distributed in different places or countries, managers may arrange a call.
  • Team members explore tasks from right to left from the top to the bottom. They discuss the options for the soonest transferring to the next stage.
  • Everyone has a speech if needed.
  • The faster every single task goes to the rightmost column, the less time it will take to work on it. The far right column is the completion of the work; the tasks that are closest to the completion are of high priority.
  • The reasons that prevent from moving a specific task to the done column are defined. If the task is blocked, it is marked and accompanied with a comment about why it was blocked.
  • Each team member takes tasks to move them to the next column by the next stand up.

The relevant Scrum meeting questions can also be asked during the Kanban stand up with focusing on tasks:

  • What did I work on yesterday?
  • What am I working on today?
  • What issues are blocking me?

Avoiding delayed tasks


Understanding the reasons why specific tasks are delayed will help you to make the right steps to effectively accelerate them.

The usual reasons for delayed tasks are the following:

  • A task when it has already reached the end can often lose its priority. The performer automatically switches to new tasks. Therefore, this task that has not been fully completed, can be delayed for a long time.
  • Some tasks can be “stucked” during the approval stage. It may occur because of the product manager's or project manager's business.
  • When the work fills the time selected to it. All tasks will be located in any part of the board until the iteration is complete. If a task is done earlier, it may simply not reach the last stage. So you have to “push” the tasks up to the release because the goal of the Kanban meeting is to reduce the time spent working on the task.

Easy steps to optimize Kanban meeting


As a simple instruction, every Agile team member should keep in mind some rules during the Kanban meeting that will help to avoid tasks routine:

  • Punctuality is one of the keys to success. Do not be late and get used that the fixed time for the internal meeting is something must-have in team members’ schedules. There is a punishment in many IT companies aimed to make participants forget about being late. For example, they can learn a poem by heart to the next stand up meeting.
  • Devices are harmful during a Kanban stand up. Before the meeting, leave your smartphones and laptops in your working room. Besides,15 minutes free of devices will be useful for resting your eyes.
  • Kanban meeting should not be turned into a long session or proceeding. The format of a short meeting means quick discussions of essential business issues. To be creative and able to control time, use a game ball to «pass the word» to the next person.
  • A short Kanban meeting is not meant for big issues discussions, so do not try to solve global problems. It is better to appoint a special meeting for them.
  • Share info, but not report it. Your Kanban meeting is not a common team meeting, so you need to share data with everyone.
  • Every time care about your oratory skills. Try to avoid vague formulations and express your thoughts clearly. Share the most important things, leaving technical details.
  • Know the agenda. Before the daily Kanban, research and analyze all statuses of your tasks.
  • Finally, respect your audience and do not interrupt them.

Final thoughts


Keeping in mind all basic rules and trying different creative approaches to meeting arranging, you'll be able to conduct an effective and productive daily Kanban meeting for your team.

Any successful Kanban stand up must end with fresh ideas, brilliant decisions, and a short-term action plan. Product managers and all team members should return to workplaces with a full understanding of their statuses as a whole project’s status.

Everyone should have some necessary notes in their Kanban boards and start thinking about the next day status meeting.

What is your typical daily Kanban meeting looks like? Do you pay enough attention to this part of the Kanban concept? Feel free to share your experience and thoughts.

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