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How to run an effective daily stand-up? 3 mistakes to avoid

Daily planning or daily standup can be the most important meeting you have, but you need to do it right. Usually, it’s a waste of time because teams:

  1. Don’t understand the main goal of daily standup, and therefore ask the wrong questions.
  2. Don’t write down their commitments, and therefore don’t synchronize their work.
  3. Don’t learn from the previous days, and therefore make the same mistakes.

These realizations led me to develop daily planning techniques for teams and, finally, to the founding of

So, how do you run an effective daily planning session?

Ask the right questions

The only important question during your daily standup is:

How do we create the most value in the next 24 hours?

All other questions are only relevant if they contribute to answering the above. With this question in mind, you instantly focus more on your team’s goals.

Write down your commitments

When I attended my first daily standup, I noticed that nobody wrote down anything. We made some declarations about the desired state of tasks by the end of the day, but no one was able to recall all of them the next day.

The other issue with not writing down commitments is that you can’t really synchronize your work. No one is able to hold more than 5–7 elements in their working memory. It’s barely enough to contain your own plans, not to mention your teammate’s.

When you write down your commitments, you can easily analyze them for dependencies and opportunities for teamwork.

Learn daily

When you ask the right question and actually work on the most important things, plus you write down your commitments, now it’s time to get better at it.

The first opportunity lies in asking yourself:

Did we actually work on the most important things?

If not, ask “Why?” - did you lack context, are your priorities wrong, did you miss something?

The second area for growth is getting better at estimating and taking uncertainty into account. A lot of people discourage estimating because it’s uncomfortable. But I’d argue it’s one of the most important professional skills, and without it, you can’t really make good decisions about your priorities.

So use every day when you underestimated or overestimated your capacity to ask yourself why it happened. Use the knowledge to do it better next time.