Writing on the principles & practice of building digital products

Morning standup meetings

Our morning standup has made me reconsider everything I thought I knew about myself*.

Who hasn't been sat in an over-filled, over-heated, over-pastried meeting questioning the sanity of all these people being sat in a small room for an extended period. But not all meetings need to be like this. No. At Animade we've recently started doing daily team standup meetings, and they're honestly one of the best things we've done as a company.

The start of the day in our office was once a bit of a free-form affair. We official started work at 9, but of course people arrived at different times so the start of the day was more as a slow yawn rather than a triumphant battle-cry. Then, like a great wind, standup meetings came howling into our lives with the promise of changing our morning routines forever. And so they have.

The premise is pretty simple. As you might expect, people involved in the meeting stand up, generally in a circle. Then, moving round the circle in turn, each person says what they did yesterday, and what they're going to do today. If you feel like it you can nominate a conch-like totem (e.g. "the talking banana") to pass round so people know whose turn it is to speak. That part can be useful, but isn’t mandatory.

The first thing we found is that being stood up keeps the meeting short. You get a couple of minutes to talk, pass the banana, and boom, you're done.

It's also a great way to make sure people know what's going on in the studio. It seems trivial but if you don't make the effort it's amazing how often small projects can fly under the radar without the majority of people knowing anything about them. Working like this people can easily start to feel isolated, and that's just bad for morale, buddy.

The standups have become our morning starting pistol, the neat little divider between cereal bowl and laptop. And I really don't know how greater a compliment you can give a meeting than that.

* By myself, I mean meetings.