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Any tips for conducting daily stand-up meetings with my team?

Michael Ballé
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Dear Gemba Coach,

I’ve been told I should conduct daily stand-up meetings with my team to solve problems collaboratively. I’m not sure how to do so — any tips?

Ah. To tell the truth, I’m not sure how I’d do it as well. My understanding of daily stand-up meetings from the Toyota tradition is rather different, but, here again, I’ve come across different practices at different Toyota sites around the world: I suspect different mother plants have different approaches.

What is the problem we’re trying to solve? A normal behavior of teams – or any group of humans for that matter – is for people to produce norms about themselves. This is why it’s so hard to join a new group. Irrespective of whether you like the people and whether they like you, you need to get to grips with the set ways they have of interacting. This is particularly visible when people join a new company. After a brief period of honeymoon when everything looks peachy, new joiners struggle and struggle until finally they have to adopt group norms, or move on. The day they adopt group behavior, they feel better, and really start to integrate.

Group norms, however, can be rather arbitrary. People are mirroring each other, and mirroring the leader more than everyone else, and this somehow produces norms. The idea of a standup meetings is that norms can be steered, somewhat.

What Did We Learn Today?

To solve this problem, a standup meeting is very brief – less than five minutes. People come to work to work, not to standup and talk – or worse, to be talked at. In a typical standup meeting, the team leader will:

  1. Brief the group about the previous shift performance
  2. Point out an incident, particularly a safety concern
  3. Ask every one to check their practice or standards in that area
  4. Highlight any special even expected during the team, anything new or unusual
  5. Ask for questions – if any.

And … that’s that. The standup meeting’s aim is to make sure every one has safety procedures in place more than anything else, and beyond that to look at other topics as well, such as quality or some specific handover hiccups and so on. Some Toyota sites go beyond the team leader brief and each person in the team conducts the meeting in term. In this case, the team leader has to prepare with the person presenting beforehand. In other sites, the group leader (the frontline manager) runs the meeting with her teams. It varies.

I’ve not yet come across stand-up meetings to address or solve problems. This seems hard to do in five minutes and, in the lean tradition, the specific tool for this is quality circles: every team should be working on one quality problem at a time in dedicated time, organized and facilitated by the team leader. Again quality circles don’t have one set organization and different team leaders do it differently, but quality circles are where problems are addressed, one by one.

Deeper not Faster

What really worries me about the idea of using standup meetings to address problem solving is the risk of having a huge list of open problems without any serious means or hope of resolving them. In lean, we don’t tackle problems in the hope that if we solve more problems faster we’ll get to the end of problems. Problem solving is a learning technique, not a pressure tool. In the same way, A3s are a teaching support, not a tool to standardize people’s thinking.

In some cases, particularly with frontline management or staff it might make sense to have a daily discussion about a problem solved during the day. The aim here is not to solve as many problems as possible, but to check observation and discussion to make sure we learn something from the day, by looking deeper in one problem a day (which doesn’t mean we’re not solving hundreds of problems a day, without listing them).

I’m not sure how to help with your question. Probably the one important thing to keep in mind is that for problem solving to work as problem-based learning, problems have to be taken one at a time. The aim is to create space to think, and think more deeply, not try to go through the problem list faster. And the best way of tackling one problem at a time is … working one job at a time.

10 Comments | Post a Comment
Vickie Dolis January 5, 2015

I have found the most effective stand-up meetings to be those focused on continuous improvement using coaching questions to empower teams to try daily experiments in order to mprove their processes.  The Improvement/Coaching Kata that Mike Rother has documented/developed has been probably the most effective stand-up meeting I have witnessed or coached.  It is comprised of 5 questions that get at the heart of continuous improvement on a "daily" basis.   We are using this method with great success at some of our GM Stamping plants. I would suggest the following links to introduce you to the use of this tool and would recommend the book written by Mike Rother (Toyota Kata).  Here are a few links to get you started:




Brandon Brown January 5, 2015

I would tend to agree with Vicki about the Improvement Kata/Coaching Kata methodology.  What I've fobserved is that the more rapidly we can conduct a daily PDCA or experiments, the faster we gain new knowledge about the obstacles keeping us from operating in an improved target condition/state.  Iterating to determine solutions is at the heart of the scientific method.  The Improvement Kata/Coaching Kata and the use of the 5 Questions (as observed in the video and websites Vicki posted) can be completed in 5-15 minutes of a stand up meeting each day.  It really narrows the focus of the person striving to meet the next target condition and ultimately the longer term challenge.

Brandon Brown


Jeremiah Davis January 5, 2015

Vickie and Brandon, I would agree with you guys on this.

If the purpose of the stand-up meeting is to solve problems, practicing the Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata is a great way to do this.


Michael Ballé January 6, 2015

Is the purpose of stand-up meetings to solve problems? Or is it to spend 5 mins (not 10 or 15) on getting every one up to speed with what happened last shift and one "pay attention" point for this shift? 

Vitezslav Pilmaier January 7, 2015

I suppose there might be some confusion in understading the term "stand-up meeting":

- Michael Balle in his answer is using the term as "terminus technicus" refering to a pre-shift 5 minutes briefs (even some times these might be not pre-shift, but are within first part of the shift in office environment cases) - in this regard the stand-up meeting is actually used to "calibrate" the team periodically (ideally prior to start of work) and in regards to the problem it is not possible to effeciently to use it to solve the problem, but it is effecitient for highlighting what is a problem (eg. the concern or safety accident)

- Mike Rother (as I understandin it) is using the term to describe a type of a meeting, where the partcipants are ussually standing near a board with A3s, KPIs, Project plans or whaterever other tools posted as close to the Gemba as possible. In this case the meeting is not meant to be 5 mins brief (but still should be kept as brief as possible) but to stimulate for quick problem solving (after 45 minutes of standing in one place you will get really tired). In this case the stand-up meeting is used aside of the morning 5 mins brief

And of course there could be even more meanings behind this term - what meaning did the you mean ?

Michael Ballé January 7, 2015

Thanks Vitezslav,

That is what I meant!

Cheers, Michael

Mike Rother January 7, 2015

A few notes in response to the comment above from Vitezslav Pilmaier:

The question Michael addresses refers to, "daily stand-up meetings to solve problems collaboratively." Yet problems are not solved in meetings. That occurs through iteration (experimenting) toward a Target Condition. The purpose of the daily meetings is to review the problem-solving process and ensure it proceeds effectively/scientifically. That's what a Toyota Sensei is doing when they meet with their Learner; near the Gemba if possible. They don't try to solve problems in that meeting. (See pages 189-193 in the book 'Toyota Kata'.)

Having longer meetings to discuss problems is often a waste of time and, worse, teaches an unscientific mindset. Identify your current Threshold of Knowledge, plan the next experiment accordingly and adjourn the meeting to go do that experiment and see further. To do this, Coaching cycles with the Improvement Kata pattern take only 5-15 minutes and utilize the simple, structured practice routines you will find at the following link, specifically to develop new habits and mindset:  http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mrother/KATA_Files/5Q_Card.pdf.

Just to make it real, here are two short videos of actual coaching cycles as practiced in many organizations. Notice that everyone is standing. (Remember, the purpose of practicing Kata like this is to develop new skill and mindset. If it seems a little stiff that's because at the beginning of internalizing a new pattern that's the way it is. As your skill develops you can evolve to a more fluid style.)

--> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySdYX4cNPsQ

--> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdUu6RCj_D4

The 7-year-old boys in the second video are operating as scientists and as such I think they are well ahead of people sitting in meetings talking about conjecture.


Rick Fleming January 11, 2015

As Mike points out in his comment the question posed was "daily stand-up meetings with my team to solve problems collaboaratively." I know many managers struggle with this question and feel somewhat lost in how to achieve effective problem solving with their team.  I have felt the same struggle many times when working with companies. What I have found is developing a scientific approach to solving problems requires frequent iteration of a short standard routine. A daily process for doing this will help build the desired behavior of practicing continuous improvement. A main tenant of the scientific method is to conduct experiments to gather data and learn our way to success. I have found a practical approach to doing this is implementing the coaching kata as described in Mike's book "Toyota Kata". This approach may not be for everyone, but if it is given a real deliberate chance and active involvement by management it has been found to be very effective. Please go to the links given by others here in the posts and give it a try.

Revino May 21, 2015

Hi Michael, We figured out that standup meetings are great but
needed improvement (they took a lot of time, de-focussed our colleagues and
interrupted their workflows). Because of this we developed a SaaS tool to ?automate? the daily standupmeetings - with just a single email. If you like to take a look: www.30secondsmail.com.
Best, Revino

Mark August 27, 2015

This all gets a bit confusing. Traditionally businesses have morning meetings with team members and management going over the current state of the business, problems etc... my question is how do Tiered meetings, Stand-up meetings and daily Kata meetings all tie together? If we spend our time doing morning meetings, then tiered meetings and other stand-up meetings, when do we actually accomplish anything? Does anyone have any examples of how to start the day with a 'morning meeting" that accomplishes our goals of SQDC?