Continuous Improvement blog The Evolution of Daily Stand Ups - My Experience

 As a member of the Business Improvement Team (BIT) at the University of Strathclyde, I’ve been involved in introducing Daily Stand Ups to different teams across the institution for over a year now, and have been participating in them for 4 years.  During that time, I’ve noticed some changes both to how we introduce them, and to how they run.  This first in a series of blogs about these changes, looks at my own introduction to Daily Stand Ups. 

What is a Daily Stand Up? 

A Daily Stand Up is a 10-15 minute meeting that takes place at the same time every day.  It goes by various names, and at Strathclyde, we call it a Communication Cell, or Comm Cell for short.  It follows a set agenda and is designed to improve communication, increase employee engagement, and empower staff, encouraging continuous improvement at the same time.  In addition, it’s a place where team members can share any improvement ideas or raise concerns they may have, share lessons learned with colleagues, and take a moment to celebrate success. 

‘Who Has Time for That?’

The first Daily Stand Up, or Comm Cell, I attended was before I joined the BIT and was working elsewhere in the University.  I can’t pretend to have been delighted at the prospect of attending a daily 10-15 minute meeting.  10- 15 minutes?  Every day?  Who has time for that? Certainly not me, there weren’t enough hours in the day as it was! I wasn’t alone in this way of thinking, although some others embraced the idea from the start.   Aside from the time factor, this was a meeting to be led by us, not by our managers, and we would take turns in leading it. For some of us, confidence in this was an issue, and a lot of coffee mugs were clutched tightly like security blankets in the early days.

My lack of enthusiasm didn’t last long.  I soon discovered the many advantages that came with attending this meeting.  First and foremost, and I should have known as the clue was in the title, better team communication! I could find out what my colleagues had achieved the previous day and what they planned for today in mere minutes.  This also meant we could assess if any of us had capacity to lend a hand to those who may have a particularly heavy workload ahead. Time could be saved and duplication avoided if someone had been working on something that might be useful to a colleague.

The Daily Stand Up gave us a platform to raise concerns, and participate in addressing these concerns, and a sense of satisfaction in resolving them.  It became a forum for discovering that people were doing the same tasks in different ways, therefore lessons were learned about the most efficient way of carrying out certain tasks, and creating standard operating procedures as result of this.  Sharing successes proved more difficult.  We were reluctant to sound like we were bragging.  It took time for us to discover that hearing about successes boosted morale and actually motivated others to share their own successes. 

Did I Have Time for That?

Much to my surprise, I did! It turned out that those 10-15 minutes every morning, actually saved me time throughout the day.  Better communication as a team meant we learned from each other, sharing more efficient ways to complete tasks. For example, we discovered we were using at least three different methods across the office to request redundancy payments from the Payroll office. Agreeing on the most efficient way, and using it as standard, proved more efficient for us, and created a more consistent experience for Payroll staff. As mentioned earlier, we could also help each other out more whenever we could.  As time went on, confidence increased, and coffee-clutching became a thing of the past.  This increase in confidence did not only apply to leading the meeting, but we became more confident in our own abilities to raise and resolve concerns.

I came to Daily Stand Ups perhaps not kicking and screaming, but very reluctantly, so no-one was more surprised than me that not only did I come to fully appreciate how useful they are, I went on to join the BIT, and one of my main responsibilities is introducing these meetings to other areas.  More about that next time.  In the meantime, if you would like to know more about Daily Stand Ups please contact us at