Sunday, January 30, 2005

Standup meeting - Talking token

One of the most common practices in XP teams is to have Standup meetings. Each team member starts by giving an update on what they did yesterday, what they are going to do today and any issues they are facing without actually trying to solve them in the meeting.

This works fine till one of the team member starts discussing a critical issue (eg:- "Oh the build machine is not working because...") , and every member starts voicing there own opinions. Sure recipe for a meeting hijack and future chaos !

We used something called a Talking Token. It can be something from a Kush Ball to a Hockey Stick. The token must be passed around, and each team member has the right to talk if he has the token. If you wish to voice an opinion, on an issue which someone else is discussing, wait for him to finish, and signal (mostly non verbal gesture preferable) for the token. This way we ensured that when one person talks everyone in the team listens patiently. More importantly , in big team standups, they atleast know who is talking.
I had read somewhere that a talking token should be a really heavy object (Like a 10 pound ball ?), and the speaker should hold out the token by stretching his hand. This would ensure that a person cannot speak for more than the ideal 3 minutes or so. Whew!


Vivek said...

One of good patterns recently Mike Two mentioned is that in standup there should be only questions/concerns and no answers/suggestion to solve the problem.

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