Agile Stand-up AKA Ground Hog Day

Time for Stand-up!


One recurring theme I’ve encountered with Agile Stand-ups on every team I’ve worked on has been the burnout of the dreaded “Stand-up”. A seemingly repetitive waste of of your day where nothing is really learned or solved or communicated — well if you’re doing it wrong, yes that is the case.

To me, Stand-ups are like a baseball player stepping up to the plate. In each at bat you have an opportunity to strike out or make a positive play for your team. Lets consider this at bat analogy for a moment so that I may offer you a lens to see Stand-ups in a different way, a way that directly benefits you, your team and even your next opportunity. Stand-ups, in my opinion, could be the most neglected and overlooked part of your day — all by our own choosing.

Like the song suggest, I’ve got you babe! Here’s some ways to win at Stand-up, well, if you choose to…

On Deck

It’s 8:45 AM and Stand-up is at 9AM, you have at least a couple of choices to make and probably don’t even know it, I mean you are about to be interrupted by the process we’ve all agreed to as a team, but I mean UGH am I right?

First, how should we walk up to the plate? Are we smiling and confident today, like at all? Are we joyful and energetic or should we go with a somber, bummed out, soul sucking black hole vortex vibe that drags our team and with any luck the teams next to us right into the never was of existence?

I only ask, because we’ve all shown up in this attitude spectrum from time to time, including myself, but I do truly believe that in that moment, for fifteen minutes, we can make a choice on how to show up. If we already know we are going to strike out, lets tip the scales in our favor simply by attitude and energy, if only for fifteen minutes. Some days, this may be one of the only business encounters where you are in control, have a voice, and quite possibly, are viewed by others outside of your immediate team. Perhaps someone of power and influence in your organization. First impressions by an outsider at your stand-up can be brutal to overcome, maybe never. Maybe even career limiting depending on who the visitor is. Lets hope they don’t show up on the day we chose to strike out. Hope is for sure an option, just not as reliable as us.

Choice number two, should we make use of any of our project boards? I mean, there’s probably no less than two or three kan ban boards tied to every project that have no views this week and that you can’t even remember the link to get to that might have some relevant information to prevent a strike out? Who would even know? Is this even allowed in Agile? I mean to get prepared, is that breaking some kind of rule or something?

Up to Bat

9AM, Stand-up is upon us, again. Ground Hog day at its finest, and it’s our turn….

Lets first step outside ourselves and watch this at bat as an observer, but not just any observer, we are now in charge of assembling a team to work on a new project for the company that offers new technology, new experiences, all the new shiny things and to do that we are going to drop by various stand-ups and just observe and listen, ultimately making a recommendation to who we want for this new opportunity. And yes, these interactions and observations do play a part in your future fate.

“I got nothing, planning to work on whatever’s next.” A personal pet peeve of my own, right on par with “Ditto”. Thanks for your best effort in preparedness for the day. It says a lot, really, mostly in the realm of you not caring too much. It’s not a good place for you to be . Borderline, don’t even come if this is what you are bringing because as you said yourself, “You’ve got nothing”. Sorry to be so harsh, but you just struck out, on three straight pitches and you didn’t even swing the bat. Just stood there and watched the ball float over the plate.

Alternatively, if you choose to be here, to be in the game, go ahead and swing at the ball. Here’s six easy examples that show you in a much better light to your team and anyone else who may be at your Stand-up…

“I’ve completed story X and its ready for testing, but before I grab story Y that is next up for priority does anyone need help on anything?”

“I notice we are closing in on that Story that impacts another team, has anyone given them a heads up?”

“I’ve been stumped on this problem since yesterday afternoon, can anyone get with me afterwards and put another set of eyes on it with me?”

“I’m making great progress on story X and should wrap it up today”

“This story appears to have some new complexities, can we have a quick huddle and make a new plan for it afterwards?”

“I had some extra time last night and I knocked out this annoying task”

Smiling and a pleasant attitude are like swing multipliers, allowing you to possibly hit it out of the park, in fact, a home run smashed ball is not likely without these two components, sorry.

Hopefully, you can process for yourself the difference in how you could be perceived based on how you show up to plate today. Again, completely in your own control, as decided by you.

You may not knock it out of the park every time, you may let the grind of Ground Hog Day or life get to you from time to time, but put your little hand in mine and I promise you that if you choose your best attitude and an ounce of preparation you will experience new opportunities, control your own narrative, and be seen in a way that we all want to to our peers and leaders — you just don’t get all that for free, you really need to swing for it!



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Nathanial Ryan

Nathanial Ryan


I love learning, technology and creativity. I’ve used technology to turn ideas into real world experiences for more than 25 years!