LearnA Better Way to Do Daily Standup Meetings


Ryan Carson
writes on June 7, 2013

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!


Learning with Treehouse for only 30 minutes a day can teach you the skills needed to land the job that you've been dreaming about.

Get Started

16 Responses to “A Better Way to Do Daily Standup Meetings”

  1. Jim Walles on July 25, 2017 at 11:53 pm said:

    It’s becoming more and more popular having asynchronous standup meetings instead. We’ve been using http://standuply.com for that and I have to admit, it’s the best way to run standups in a remote team.

  2. We use Geekbot for our daily stand up meetings on Slack. You can take a look here: https://geekbot.io

  3. Very interesting post. After some googling I am about to give a try to https://tatsu.io/ that fires the 3 standup questions to all team members sequentially, daily in a slack dedicated channel

  4. We are loving our daily stand up meetings hosted on http://www.standup.report
    It really helps to kick-start the day!

    • Thanks Maria, we have also started using it and loving it’s simplistic design. It is proving efficient to us till now. Honestly, we registered because it’s free.

  5. 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?

    good hcg phase 2 recipes

  6. Martin Henk on June 10, 2013 at 10:52 am said:

    We have been using https://idonethis.com/ very successfully for the same purpose. Works a lot better compared to f2f especially for distributed teams that are also quite far appart in terms of timezones.

  7. I have been doing work as a project manager, brand identifier, web developer and designer, and creative contributor of a project for an author and his book for almost three years now and although our team is extremely small at the moment, we find that phone, Skype, or Google Chat meetings usually do the best. Mainly because we spend much more time discussing elements and painting pictures for the team.

  8. Marco Louro on June 10, 2013 at 3:32 am said:

    We’ve been doing it very similarly for the last year or so with great success, except we called it “Devolgs” and use http://gingerhq.com (a realtime threaded discussions). We’re a small distributed team with people that cover every timezone, so face-to-face standups are impossible and email is just terrible for tracking discussions. We wrote our take on a while back @ http://blog.helloginger.com/2012/07/devlogs-our-stand-in-for-stand-ups.html

  9. Pako Herrera on June 9, 2013 at 6:45 pm said:

    I work at a small company and we have daily standup meetings

    Sometimes I think it’s a waste of time beacuse someone can explain what he’s working on and the difficulties he’s having, so all the attention goes to that person and instead of having a 15 min meeting, it can go to 40 or 50 min meeting

    I think having a meeting in the middle of the week (wednseday) can work better instead of having it daily

    • Keeping it short and on topic are the key elements. Those discussions you seem to have should be taken offline with only people that needs to be present.

      • disqus_rzqL49b7QZ on June 10, 2013 at 10:58 am said:

        We use the “rule of 3” for things like this. If the conversation goes back and forth three times, it is taken offline. Anyone at the meeting can identify this, so that there isn’t one “jerk in the room” always telling people to shut up. We have instituted the use of the word “pineapples” to indicate that a conversation has gone on too long in a less invasive way. This lightheartedness may not work for all companies but it has made things run smoothly for us.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

man working on his laptop

Are you ready to start learning?

Learning with Treehouse for only 30 minutes a day can teach you the skills needed to land the job that you've been dreaming about.

Start a Free Trial
woman working on her laptop