The Wall Street journal had an interesting article several weeks ago on the idea of “Stand-Up Meetings.”
Stand-up meetings are part of tech culture in which sitting has become synonymous with waste. The main idea behind these meeting (as also pointed out in this MarketPlace episode) is to eliminate long meeting where participants pontificate, check emails, and play Angry Birds:
The current wave of stand-up meeting is being fueled by the growing use of “Agile,” an approach to software development, crystallized in a manifesto published by 17 software professionals in 2001. The method calls for compressing development projects into short pieces. It also involves daily stand-up meetings where participants are supposed to quickly update their peers with three things: What they have done since yesterday’s meeting; what they are doing today; and any obstacles that stand in the way of getting work done.”
Agile is the Lean Manufacturing equivalent of software development. Both are based on the basic idea of eliminating wasteful non-value added steps in the process. However, just like many of the adoption of lean, the adoptions of Agile rely on specific tactics or tools, rather than the basic principles. The Agile manifesto, states:
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
Working software over comprehensive documentation.
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
Responding to change over following a plan.
It’s easy to see the analogy between these and the principles of lean operations, such as continuous improvement, visibility of waste, employee involvement, and synchronization of all flows. In that sense, stand-up meetings are just implementation tools, and as such can be wasteful if not understood properly within the broader context of Agile (or Lean). In my opinion, two good books on this topic are “Lean Startup”, and “Do More, Faster”.
Side note: As someone that has been trying to deal with tardiness in classes, I was happy to see that some of these firms have adopted a penalty approach, similar to the one I impose in class:
Participants frown upon late arrivals, and some data-obsessed engineers have even computed the costs of tardiness. Ian Witucki, a program manager at software firm Adobe Systems Inc., calculated the cumulative cost over the course of a typical 18-month product release cycle of starting the stand-up just a little bit late every day. The total—about six weeks of work for two employees—equaled the amount of time the firm could spend building one major feature on each product, he says. Soon after, the team imposed a $1 fine for latecomers. Now staffers run down the hall to make it on time, says Mr. Witucki.
Will we see people paying fees for being late to board meetings? will we see people standing at board meeting or other corporate meetings? I am not sure that this is the solution for all the inefficiencies exhibited in meetings, but I do plan to try and have a stand-up class some times during the Spring quarter.