Making the stand-up meeting a success? If so, avoid these pitfalls

Have fewer meetings, get more done: that, in a nutshell, is what a daily stand-up meeting accomplishes. Not for nothing is the stand-up a well-known phenomenon in the world of Agile and Lean. But while this tool is being used in more and more organizations, there is often still a world to be gained when it comes to how the stand-up is conducted.

In this blog by consultant and trainer Arnold Verhagen, you’ll discover what a really good stand-up meeting gets you, but also what pitfalls can undermine this success.

Arnold VerhagenA stand-up meeting is a day start in which a team brings each other up to date in just ten to fifteen minutes. It is applicable everywhere – in ICT companies and in companies in industry, in executive teams and in the MT. It is also a good tool for getting people throughout the organization involved in continuous improvement. There is always someone chairing the stand-up, often a manager, but each team member self-reports their progress. For example, introducing a daily stand-up ensures that each team member takes responsibility and thinks independently about their work. How did the previous working day go? What did I run into in the work process? What results can I share, for example in terms of quality, efficiency or cost? And what do I expect from today … are there any issues I should raise so that we can take action in time?


Improve in daily work

So with a stand-up, you improve in your daily work, and that ensures quick results. Every day you look back and forward, and as a team you spar over possible solutions to problems and improvements. That way, nothing is left lying around. Also, with a stand-up, you don’t put all the pressure on one executive. That manager does not have to think for his entire team, but can deal with what is important to him. Furthermore, with a stand-up you create step by step an improvement culture where everyone feels involved. If major improvement projects end up on the agenda, employees can get involved in them much faster – after all, they are already used to continuous improvement. And what’s more, employees feel heard. The stand-up meeting is a platform for them to speak their minds. They are given space here to contribute ideas and improve their own work.


Stand-up meeting versus Kaizen

One method often used in addition to or instead of the stand-up meeting is Kaizen. You then initiate small improvement projects, for example to reduce complaints or improve production. Want to know more about this? On our website you will find a great case of DSM Stanyl, where too often products were made that did not meet specifications. Kaizen has many advantages, and it is best to combine Kaizen and the stand-up meeting. But if you want to go for one of the two, which is how many organizations start, then the stand-up is the best choice. Indeed, in Kaizen, you take people out of their jobs to carry out the improvement project. As you can read in DSM’s case, “For a Kaizen, you have to free up people. They must not work on other things during this period. Because if there are distractions, it’s not going to be a success. A Kaizen is intensive, because it comes on top of the normal work and that puts considerable pressure on the organization. Only afterwards do you reap the benefits.” A stand-up is focused on day-to-day work, so you don’t have to schedule people for it and no work gets left behind. Also, with a stand-up you are always looking at yesterday’s day, whereas Kaizen is about trends you have been seeing for a long time. With a stand-up, you don’t have to wait for it to become a trend, you’re ahead of problems AND therefore business goals are met faster.


The stand-up as a one-man-show

So a stand-up meeting, even relative to Kaizen, delivers a lot. But there are also pitfalls. The first lurking pitfall is that it still becomes a one-man-show by the manager. People must learn to take responsibility for themselves, and the manager can make or break this learning process. Make by acknowledging that it is indeed a learning process and that it does not have to be perfect right away. Breaking by taking the lead every time anyway and not giving employees enough space.


Noting actions that produce results

Failure to note actions is also a pitfall. Are problems raised that require follow-up without clear actions being linked to them immediately, during the stand-up? Then chances are that this problem will be forgotten and still not addressed. If this happens more often, irritation will eventually develop in the team. Because although a stand-up is short and sweet, it is still a waste of precious time if it does not produce concrete improvements in daily work. So the tip for the stand-up chair is to note actions and always return to them at the next stand-up meeting. That way you create ownership and work from the premise that it should produce results.


Perform quality actions

By the way, make sure that the quality of the actions is high. Suppose an error slipped through in the production process because someone should have checked something they didn’t. This error comes to light during the stand-up and it is noted as an action that the person who should have checked it is called to account for it. If this does indeed happen, you can basically speak of a successful action. But then how effective has this action been? Is this person also thinking about that check in a month, or in six months? The noted action could also have been to build a step into the process – think of a signal or flashing light – that would ensure that check would never be forgotten. That would have been a much more effective action.


Want to know more? Watch the webinar!

In addition to the three pitfalls mentioned above, participant behavior also plays an important role. This behavior can also cause a stand-up meeting to not produce the desired effect and (therefore) be seen as a waste of time. A missed opportunity… Want to know what these pitfalls in behavior are and, of course, how to avoid them? We recently hosted the webinar “The ten biggest pitfalls in behavior when it comes to stand-up meetings. Did you miss this? You can still watch the recorded webinar for free here! After attending this webinar, you will have concrete tools to make stand-up meetings a success. So watch the webinar today.

Lean training

Our Lean and Lean Six Sigma training courses also address the stand-up meeting as part of working more effectively and efficiently, as well as more enjoyably. The Lean Green Belt training page has more information and you can also download a flyer.


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