Friday, October 12, 2007

10-minute stand-up

If I could impart one word of wisdom to an entrepreneur – let alone anyone endeavoring to get something done – it would be focus. Particularly in today’s always-on environment; time-killing, focus-waning distractions are candy-like, at-the-fingers temptations.

As an undergrad at Cal Poly, our school mantra was Learn by doing. At Venture Lab, our calling was Create, innovate, accelerate. We learned while doing and, along the way, made a lot of mistakes while accomplishing much.

One of my colleagues, David Hahn, instituted an amazingly simple and highly productive practice: Twice-daily stand-up meetings. Inspired in part by then entrepreneur Michael Bloomberg’s two meeting rules (no meeting shall last more than 15 minutes, and meeting organizers were required to create and follow an agenda), here’s how our stand-ups transpired:

Every morning we would corral the bleary-eyed team into a circle. No sitting down. Brevity ruled. Each team member had a minute or so to relay two things: Here’s what I’m going to accomplish today, and here is where I need help. We would then set out to, hopefully, individually and collaboratively accomplish what we preached. At day’s end – aided, if desired, by a 12-ounce libation – we would reconvene and carousel our accomplishments: Here’s what I planned to accomplish, this is what I accomplished, and this is what I need to get done. No notes. No agenda. No criticism. Full accountability and visibility. In short: A wonderfully productive and terse exercise to focus the individual and collective energy of the team to proactively do what’s important, versus reactively executing what’s apparent.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Okay, so I just ran across this while helping a colleague implement a 10-minute stand-up meeting. Great details and advice. I like the idea of everyone having a coke to drink at the end of the day, making the meeting fun. I also learned that the agenda is important. I appreciate the blogicle on the art of the stand-up.