We’ve all been taught that it’s important to have daily standup meetings. These are meant to encourage information flow between teams, but the problem is that they’re actually structured to restrict information flow. We’ve come up with a better way at Treehouse and I wanted to share it with you.

Traditional Standup Meetings

The traditional daily standup meeting goes like this:

  • The standup meeting is conducted face-to-face (in person or over video chat) and is limited to 15 minutes.
  • Each person has 1-2 minutes to express what they did yesterday, what they’re working on today and what’s blocking them from completing important tasks.
  • Someone holds a timer and keeps the meeting on schedule. If a discussion breaks out, the person running the meeting asks people to discuss it after the meeting.

As Tommy Morgan explained in his post Daily Meetings are Great but You Should Never Have Them, the whole point of a standup meeting is to exchange information, but asking questions to clarify issues and receive insight are banned. These face-to-face meetings are also very disruptive because you have to stop what you’re doing to attend, whether you’re in the zone or not. Tommy’s proposal is to do daily standup meetings over email instead. I liked his idea but I wanted to take it even further.

A New Way to do Daily Standup Meetings

Email is sub-optimal for this kind of daily standup meeting because of the following reasons:

  1. No threaded comments. Long email threads quickly breakdown into reply-hell where it’s difficult to tell who said what and to whom they’re talking.
  2. Not searchable or transparent to other teams who might want/need to know what your team is doing. If you weren’t on the email thread, you don’t have access to the data.

I was discussing the idea of email daily standups with Grant Roholt and he had a killer idea: Why not use Convoy, the Treehouse internal Reddit clone, to post daily standup updates?

So here’s how it works:

  1. I create a post in Convoy that is titled “YYYY-MM-DD Daily Standup” and email the link to the people in the standup meeting.
  2. When they have time, they check their email, click the link and post a comment to the thread with their daily update.
  3. Throughout the day the other folks circle back to the thread and ask specific questions to get further insight into what was posted. Threaded comments are natively built into Convoy (Reddit) so it’s super easy to read back through the thread and understand what’s happening.
  4. The thread is public to the whole company so anyone can drop in and see what my team is up to, and ask questions if necessary. This matches the “Open Doors” Treehouse Value.
  5. All the daily standups go into a category (for example Designer Team Daily Standups) so that anyone can easily go back in time and see what was said/done in previous meetings – an automatic record of what everyone said they’d do so they can be held accountable.

Screenshot of our internal tool at Treehouse for doing standup meetings

We’re going to build in @replies so that when you mention someone in a comment, they’ll get an email and be reminded to come back to the thread and reply.

How do you do it?

How do you conduct daily standup meetings? What works well and what’s a pain in the ass for you? Looking forward to chatting in the comments!