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Story-Focused Standups

by Chris Sims on Sep 29, 2008 |

A widely accepted agile practice is the daily standup meeting, in which each team member shares:

  • What they have done since the previous standup
  • What they expect to achieve by the next
  • Anything that is getting in their way

Mike Cohn recently examined variations that shed additional light on the progress being made toward completing each user story.

One approach is to report story-by-story instead of person-by-person.  Mike suggested that a 'story owner' might be assigned to each story.  This person would be responsible for keeping track of the progress being made on the story, even if several other people are working on it.  This person might report on the progress of the story at each standup, or at least know which people to call on for updates.

Another way to tie status back to the story would be to have team members point out which story their work relates to.  One way of facilitating this would be to meet in front of a task board, designed such that the relationships between stories and tasks was clear, and have each developer point to the items that they are working on as they talk about them.

Has your team modified the format of your daily standup in order to put more focus on the user stories?  Leave a comment and let us know what you did and how it worked out.

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Daily Stand Ups - utilise Story Board-Information Radiator - We useVersione by Leith Painter

Yes - a Story board in stand ups is key in our organisation - to keep focus of daily stand ups < 15 mins - the scrum lead highlights the story in the story board in reference to the individual currently providing an update so the whole team including the chickens has a reference point of each update, this is especially helpful when blockers are identified as impediment 'take aways' are immediately identified with the story owner, scrum master..
In our case we use Versionone as the story board with a projector...and simply highlighting each story-defect works out well with burndown reflection at the end of the scrum..
A couple of times a sprint we also look at the goals of the sprint to keep good context-cadence as well...

Don't turn your daily standup into a status meeting by Farhan Thawar

I really like the original daily standup agenda and I've seen the standup degrade into a status meeting (most items are also not relevant for the whole team) that takes way too long.

I'd be weary of changing our approach

Ask a fourth question... by Richard Scott-Will-Harknett

I hold the stand ups that I run at the story board so that if there is a real need to discuss a particular story it can be done. However, I like to stick to the traditional 3 questions. I also like the "fourth question" proposed by a number of different people, too numerous to list. The fourth question is "how confident are you that we will achieve the sprint goal?"

To me the daily stand up is about the individual committing to the rest of the team and a check on the confidence of meeting the goal.

I fear that story focused stand ups have the potential to turn into status meetings and the sessions will drift back to being like old fashioned project meetings for the benefit of the PM rather than the team.

Story Focused Standups - Avatars are key by Tim Mackinnon

The idea of focusing on stories vs. people is quite an old one (I believe this is how XP structured their standups) - its also been revisited recently by the KanBan advocates as a way of enabling a larger team to communicate.


To counteract the idea of it turning into a status report - I have found (both in teams I have worked with and others I have observed) that the idea of team members creating magnetic avatars which they attach to the card they are working on gives both a story foucus and a personal report perspective. Working out if you stay on a card or can move it to a new state and attach yourself to a new card (hopefully paired with someone else) gives a very compelling update. It's reminiscent of giving a weather report - and participents take care to report to their colleagues where they are in quite a natural way.


For examples of this refer to a recent QCon recorded presention I gave at Agile 2008 (Agile and Beyond, the Power of Aspirational Teams - www.infoq.com/presentations/Agile-and-Beyond-Ti... where I show some pictures of boards using this technique). I first observed professional looking avatars created by Energized Work, and the idea of avatars possibly comes from Easynet where they used them on their build screens.

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