Julien Déray

Julien Déray's blog

All the posts | Written on December 11, 2020

Daily Stand-up, the Kanban way

Daily Stand-ups are increasingly common and we almost do it automatically, following the same process every single day. So often that we sometimes forget its actual purpose. It is the case in many other aspects of the Agile practices, like detailed in this article.

The Scrum way

The Daily Scrum is probably what inspired most of the stand-ups done every day across the globe. You know the drill: every team member quickly says what they have done the previous day, what they intend to do today and if there are any blockers preventing them from reaching their goal (and ultimately the Sprint Goal). This last part is often forgotten but don’t get me started on this subject.

Put simply, the goal of this ceremony is to optimise the probability to meet the Sprint Goal, helping the Scrum team to inspect and adapt. The Scrum Master attends, makes sure that the ceremony aims for this goal and takes notes of any impediments to take care of.

You probably recognise your team’s process in this description. But chances are your team actually uses Kanban, not Scrum (they are not mutually exclusive, though). If this is your case, keep reading.

The Kanban way

There are no Sprints in Kanban, so running a daily ceremony which goal is to “optimise the probability to meet the Sprint Goal” does not make much sense. Instead let’s ask ourself what is the Kanban equivalent of Scrum’s Sprint Goal. My vision about this comes down to Kanban’s mojo: “Stop starting, start finishing”. The daily stand-up should be an opportunity to identify which Work Item can move, are stuck, late, ready, …

Kanban’s stand-up is not so much about the team members but about the tasks. So instead of asking people what they are up to, we ask the tasks by visualising the board.

Let’s take a simple example.

Kanban stand up - step 1

Because Kanban is a pulling system, we look at the Work Items from right to left. The first thing we notice is Task 1 being currently deployed. It turns out the person in charge of this card actually forgot to move it to “done”. It happens, let’s move it now.

Kanban stand up - step 2

Now we have one deployment slot available… and one Work Item waiting! The same person who forgot to move the card is luckily available, they’ll take care of it.

Kanban stand up - step 3

The board looks quite clean, which can be either a good or a bad sign. But we are not done yet. Let’s move across the two next Work Items available to development. Items in the “input” column have crossed the commitment line, which means the clock is ticking.

Kanban stand up - step 4

We are almost there. In an optimal case the relevant Product Owners / Project Managers are attending the meeting and they can set priorities for the next tasks coming in. This can sometimes lead to interesting conversations where 3 POs are attending but only 2 “input” slots are available. This forces them to agree on the Work Items’ priority (and ultimately the business’) without drowning the team, thanks to the WIP limit on “input”.

Kanban stand up - step 5

As you can see, our board has changed dramatically - although this was not the most realistic example. Kanban’s daily stand-up is almost automatic, mechanical.

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