Continuous Improvement blogA Few Key Elements to Facilitate the Successful Implementation of Daily Stand Up Meetings

What are Daily Stand Ups (DSUs)?

Daily Stand Ups (DSUs) are an innovative meeting style adopted from the manufacturing sector. They have 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 in 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 at the University of Strathclyde has been in general very positive to date.

  • 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 the successful implementation of a DSU.

There is a clear purpose for introducing a DSU, which has been communicated to everyone on 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 knowing why they’ve been asked to attend. This is not a great starting point.

An understanding of what a DSU is

This does not 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 is not possible, we offer them the opportunity to come and see a DSU in operation at the University of Strathclyde. This helps to put things into a better context.

A good learning environment

When we deliver a DSU training session before 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.

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, 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 that gives every member of the team a voice. Every member of the team is encouraged to contribute, 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 teamwork 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 of improvements

Find out more

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.