Daily Stand Ups (DSUs) are an innovative meeting style adopted from the manufacturing sector which has been proven to be immensely powerful in achieving a culture of continuous improvement, resulting in improved communication, productivity, and efficiency savings for organisations. In 2013, the University of Strathclyde was the first University within the UK to widely adopt this innovative approach.
Over the last 7 years we have helped to introduce a large number of DSU meetings both internally across our university, and for our external clients. The impact of introducing Daily Stand Ups in the University of Strathclyde has been in general very positive to date.
Daily Stand Ups at Strathclyde
Daily Stand Ups widely in operation across the university
Hundreds of staff across the university engaged with Daily Stand Ups
Thousands of improvements identified and implemented by staff at all levels
100% of participants surveyed agree communication has improved across their team
Over 70% of participants surveyed said that they feel more empowered in their role
Focus on the university strategy and drive performance towards achieving KPIs
This blog aims to highlight some of the key elements that need to be in place to facilitate a successful implementation of a DSU.
- There is a clear purpose for introducing a DSU, which has been communicated to everyone in the team. The purpose could be to improve communication across the team, to empower staff and/or to develop the innovative thinking and creative problem solving capability of the team. As part of our approach to implementation, we provide an initial half-day training session. You’d be amazed at the number of times that people turn up for the training not really knowing why they’ve been asked to attend. This is not a great starting point.
- An understanding of what a DSU is. This doesn’t have to be an in-depth knowledge; a basic understanding of a DSU is very helpful. Ideally we recommend, where possible, for members of teams to visit other DSUs to get a feel for what it looks like in operation. With an external client, if this isn’t possible, we offer them the opportunity to come and see a DSU in operation in the University of Strathclyde. This helps to put things into a better contex
- A good learning environment. When we deliver a DSU training session prior to implementation, the importance of a fit for purpose and good quality learning environment cannot be underestimated. Over the years I have experienced rooms that are too small, too hot, too cold, and rooms that have no tables to do the group learning activities. These are just some examples. Whilst any trainer needs to be able to adapt to different training environments, an inappropriate learning environment can have a negative impact on the learning experience before you’ve even started.
In addition, where possible, try to avoid holding the DSU training session during an extremely busy period for the team and/or individuals attending. This will help, although maybe not completely eradicate, a requirement for some participants to constantly be checking their phones or laptops for work emails.
In my opinion DSUs can work for any team, helping to improve how the team works and improve the experience for those working in the team. However, in order for it to work effectively, the right environmental conditions need to be in place. This includes the appropriate leadership behaviours being consistently adopted. Remember that a DSU is the team’s meeting, not the manager’s meeting; this is not the same as a daily de-brief, this is a meeting which gives every member of the team a voice. Every member of the team is encouraged to make a contribution, to assess team performance directly related to strategic priorities, constructively challenge others to identify opportunities for improvement, and share successes and lessons learned on a daily basis. These meetings also help to keep team members informed of important information and allow for sharing of collective knowledge.
- Applying the key elements outlined above will help improve the chances of a successful implementation which can then lead to the following benefits for the team and the organisation:
- Reduce time spent on phone calls and emails
- Allows dedicated time for the team to speak to each other
- Strengthens problem solving capability
- Improves team working and knowledge sharing through effective communication
- Aligns the work of the team to deliver the organisations strategic priorities
- Inspires people to take responsibility and have the authority to take control of decision-making
- Taps into the talents of every team member and empowers staff to take ownership for improvements
You can find out more about our approach to Daily Stand Ups on our website and also in Chapter 9 of Global Lean for Higher Education: A Themed Anthology of Case Studies, Approaches, and Tools. Yorkstone, S. (Ed.). 2019. New York: Routledge/Productivity Press.