Standups in a Startup

In my last startup, I wasn't super good at delivering standups daily, so I wrote a retrospective on what didn't go so well, what I learned, and what I'm doing now.

  • I didn't see them working for me because I was too "task" focused and not enough "goal" focused
  • my standup was too much of a todo list (again because it was tasks, and not goals)
  • Because my standup was a todo list, it was often too long to get it all done in a day
  • and because I wasn't getting it done in a day, that left me feeling like I wasn't making progress.
  • Added on top of that frustraiting feeling of no progress, there was sometimes and embarrassed to admit my inexperience or lack of progress on some tough tasks
  • and I wasn't asking for help because of the embarrassment
  • and sometimes, I'd keep it to myself out of the fear that my efforts were being wasted and we'd stop work on that task if I didn't make huge leaps in progress soon
  • and then when I did have those eureka moments that would give me huge strides in progress, I could't really be excited and share it in all its glory with my standup peers because I had hidden a lot of the trials to get me there, so I felt like I couldn't share the eureka moment either

Some side notes:

  • I only know this in hindsight, but I often didn't have well thought out measurements for the success of my standup goals, so I often times would get started and not know my destination (when to move on to the next thing, when to call this goal a loss, etc).
  • I didn't feel like my standups were a conversation with anyone
  • and I felt the people hearing my standup had so much on their plate already that I never felt like I had any room to ask for help

What I (try) to do now:

  • goals written each day with a estimate of pomodoros required to complete it to both exercise my estimation muscle and put a fire under me when I add them up and realize I've got 10 hrs worth of planned work
  • I try and acknowledge what part of my life each goal is aligned with. Out of the half dozen life goals I have, I've got who knows how many projects that I'm either actively doing or somewhere in the progress of researching. They all bubble back up to one of the slices of the pyramid of needs and to one of my life goals, and that helps me to acknowledge that I'm working on things that align with my large life goals.
  • Each following day, I run through my list list from yesterday and any goal from yesterday that wasn't completed either has to:
    1. be articulated out as an ask to my network for help or
    2. if I feel like I really understand the goal, just misunderstood its scale, I can break it down into "slices"
    3. re-evaluated the task in priority as to if it is really required or if it was a nice to have at the time (this is the one that worries me the most, as I'm afraid of abandoning work)
  • Once I've got a solid feel for what I'm bring from yesterday, I look across my broad list of boards where I've got "work in progress", and I today's 3 -5 goals, putting any other that don't fit back into "cards" or whatever technique I have for tracking the backlog
  • Once I have my 3-5 goals, I have to articulate the measure of success and I adjust pomodoro estimate to accommodate.

I've got the whole process semi-automated with daily templates in Notion.so. For anyone that would like to see it, I'm happy to do a quick (5 minutes or less) walk through of how I do it and why I think its useful.