The 4 Ps of effective standups

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This is a quick blog post with some tips for effective stand-ups that a friend asked me to write so he could share it with someone else. So here it is Mark.

These 4Ps came to life when I was working with Amy Wagner creating and delivering some training in Brussels. The training was intended to help a team get better at the way they worked together and stand-ups were an area that needed attention. This isn’t uncommon for digital teams, they may be having regular stand-ups, but the real value can sometimes get lost.

I have used the 4Ps in my work since then and at a workshop at Agile in the city Bristol and then Agile in the city Birmingham about making standups (and retrospectives) more effective.

Firstly, what is a stand-up? (sometimes known as the daily scrum)

A regular standing meeting that agile teams have, every day for 15mins.

Why do we have them?

I used this definition from Jason Yip in my workshops

Stand-ups are a mechanism to regularly synchronise so that teams…

  • share their understanding of any goals
  • coordinate efforts
  • share problems and improvements
  • identify as a team

How can we make them better? 

The 4 P’s of effective stands-ups

Preparation Think about your update in advance

Think about what you have been doing and what you want to share with the rest of the team, don’t just run in the door, into the stand-up and say the first thing you can remember.

Prioritisation Don’t talk about ALL the things

Not everything is relevant or valuable to everyone else, talk about the most important things that other people need to know or things you need help with. Keep the current goal in mind too.

People Talk to the team, not to the leader (scrum master, agile coach etc)

This isn’t a status meeting, this is a chance to talk to the team, so talk to the team and listen to each other.

Problems Raise issues and help each other

The stand-up is the place to say when you are blocked or stuck, but don’t wait to be asked, it’s also a great place to offer help to each other.

What are your top tips for effective stand-ups? (They don’t have to alliterate, but it’s neat when they do 🙂 )


Photo by Drew Stephens


  1. Great post 🙂

    A few more things I find help make an effective standup (that also happen to begin with P):

    Purpose: Keep in mind the purpose or goal of the sprint; any update should be focused on this and not other stuff that might happen in 2 months time.
    Presence: Not just being there, being present. Actually listening to others talk. Don’t just wait for your turn to speak
    Preamble It’s ok to have some ‘banter’ for a few minutes before starting the actual standup.

    • ewebber

      9 July 2017 at 7:33 am

      Nice one Chris.
      On “Presence”, I heard of a bias that says that you don’t listen to the person directly before and after you. Mixing up who speaks next (maybe using a token or ball) can help with this.

      The banter bit is really important to feel like a team 🙂

  2. RT @ewebber: New blog post: The 4 Ps of effective standups / cc @MarkDalgarno @amyeee

  3. I was waiting for ‘Prompt’. How many stand ups are disrupted by someone arriving 5 mins late. Make sure your stand up is suitable for everyone and then enforce it.

    • ewebber

      9 July 2017 at 1:24 pm

      Being prepared is part of that too – not turning up with your breakfast is also good (I’ve seen that before)

  4. ewebber

    10 July 2017 at 3:44 am

    From Andy Carroll on Twitter

    “Something to focus on over the next few weeks. And maybe a 5th for ourselves – Punctuality.”

  5. ewebber

    10 July 2017 at 3:48 am

    From Mikey Cooper on Twitter

    “Precision – omg stop rambling! The last 90 seconds could have been summarized as “I emailed Client about X. No reply. Will call today.”

  6. Don’t you think it’s funny a post of effective stand ups has a monster team like that? There’s like 11 people there! 😉 Isn’t that a bit of an anti pattern just waiting to be flagged up by some annoying agile wannabe?

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