Stand-up whiteboard meetings have become increasingly popular over the last decade across industries. However it can be difficult to maintain high energy if the meetings are not conducted with focus on a couple of good deeds.
Stand-up meetings increases knowledge sharing because they give an overview and build focus on those tasks, milestones, risks and ideas that should be prioritized right now. Getting the overview is partly for the manager, but the overview also nurtures experience-sharing on specific problem areas for meeting participants.
Working with boards on various levels in the organization gives top management a fixed structure and overview of tasks, milestones, risks and ideas that are addressed further down in the organization. All it takes is that information is escalated upwards from the department board to the managers’ board.
Boards create flow and structure
Using boards with simple visual aids during meetings establish a structure and an agenda for meetings. At a fixed frequency (daily or weekly) important tasks and related problems that arise during execution are walked through one by one.
The structure also strengthens focus, simply because if it isn’t on the board it is not important enough to spend all participants time on and should be saved for another time.
Boards as the leader’s backbone
As a management tool – especially for the less experienced leader – boards serve not only as an agenda, but as a backbone to hold onto in case you get insecure or uncertain of where the meeting is heading. By going through the board diligently, all important areas and problems are discussed and no relevant details are missed.
For the more experienced leader, you will learn that using the board ensures that participants feel that decisions are made in a fair process and even if they disapprove of the decision, – participants will accept the outcome because they considered it a fair process.
“But, how do you conduct stand-up meetings that engage and commits participants?”
Below are the eight most important tips I have learned when it comes to conducting good stand-up meetings with high levels of energy and visual aids.
Before the meeting
In order to have good meetings, preparation counts for at least 60% of the effort from the board leader. Some good steps towards good meeting preparation is:
1. Early involvement
Before the first meeting, make sure to introduce the board and tell, why you as a manager need a day-to-day overview of who is doing what. If you haven’t already done it, I recommend that you conduct a mapping of all tasks in your team. This is done in 1 hour work shop, simply by asking your team: “what do you do during the day?”
The task-mapping can be used as a gross list of which tasks you can have on the board. Make a shortlist based on priorities and bundle tasks if they are done in sequence without changing hands.
Participants might perceive the board initiative as a way of controlling and monitoring their performance. That is not necessarily the case. Merely, it is the intention to monitor and control the task and make sure that preventive courses of action are taken in time.
2. Clear update process
You can avoid embarrassing meetings if you establish a sense of urgency with regards to updating of the board. Participants should always update their rows and columns respectively before the meeting commences. So always repeat how, who and when information is updated. Also make sure that participants know who to contact if they in case they are not present at the meeting.
3. Clear responsibilities
Make sure to communicate in writing, who is responsible for what during meetings, in order to avoid any mistakes that will make you look stupid.
It should be very clear, who is facilitating the meeting – also in case of holidays etc. It doesn’t always have to be you as the leader. In fact some parts of the meeting can be better facilitated by someone else, while you spend your energy on commenting and listening to what others have to say.
I recommend that participants talk about their own tasks while standing at the board. This makes sure that participants are motivated to prepare what they want to say before the meeting.
During the meeting
Besides the obvious deeds like starting on time, making sure that nobody else in the room makes noise during the meeting and making sure that there are no physical obstacles between the board and the participants. There are a few good tips that will help you become a better facilitator of a stand-up whiteboard meeting.
4. Adhere to the ground rules
A good board meeting takes between 25 and 30 minutes and entails status on:
• Daily operational tasks. Who does what today? What is status since last time?
• Performance Measures. What are we measuring? What is the latest measure? Are their any interesting patterns in the way key indicators fluctuate?
• Continuous Improvement. Which ideas are we currently working on? Are their any new ideas we should have on the board?
What we often find is that managers tend to spend most of their time discussing issues related to the daily operations whereas ideas, metrics and risks are secondary and often neglected completely from the board meeting. Ask your self what will happen if you do not improve your operation? Can you afford “not” to have a process for improving your business?
5. Facilitate for fair process
When a decision is made during the meeting, make sure that you have looked everybody in the eye and invited them to engage. Then make sure the decision is sufficiently explained so that everybody understands what is the decision. Explain what is expected of those involved in that decision. That way it is more likely that you get acceptance to the decision and actually are able to carry it out. If you can somehow visualize your decision team members are more likely to embrace your decision.
6. Keeping altitude
Nothing is easier than getting lost in details! That goes especially for people who are experts within their area and know every little exception that we should account for.
This is often highly important and relevant knowledge, but should be left out of the meetings since it drains the energy from everybody else who does not know that particular detail.
As such, keeping a 15,000 feet altitude serves you best and you have to practice saying: “We need to discuss that after the meeting”.
After the meeting
There are a few things left before you can get back to managing a now highly engaged team.
7. Document and learn
When you are done with your stand-up board meeting, you need to make sure that all changes to the board are documented and that you follow up and define actions for each of the times you said: “We need to discuss that after the meeting”.
Also, make sure to get some instant feedback from participants on their way to the coffee machine. If you wait, you won’t get the true feedback, but a digested version of it.
8. Escalate relevant ideas, risks and issues
If you are part of a larger organization you need to bring information from your board meeting to the next management level. This is a handheld process, but nevertheless important that your managers know what goes on in your department so they can take preventive courses of action. You may even build your own big room for management, where they can meet up and discuss key issues and metrics across silos. An alternative is to use online collaboration tools – see our blog post on ways to customize your own board.
Engage meeting participants
If you want the great overview, but are working across sites, need data for analysis or if you are out of wall space, vimpl offers a proven tool for conducting virtual stand-up meetings in the “sky”. Sign-up at vimpl.com and start collaborating with whom you want anywhere you want. Read more about the benefits with vimpl and collaborating in real-time here.
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