Twitter Stand Ups – a new type of Stand Up

In my past projects and recent project we always seem to struggle to keep the stand up meetings focused on the stand up agenda and under the standard 15 minutes. We have tried to implement several constraints intended to help to focus the meeting such as limiting the team size and also time boxing the time each individual has in such a meeting. Although we have made some improvements, it is honestly still a work in progress.

One day Steve Rogalsky, mentioned an interesting idea that he thought had heard elsewhere; we should have our team members submit content via Twitter. The very format would keep the submitter focused on just communicating the minimum information as you only get 140 characters. We then proposed that you could get one tweet for what you did last week, one tweet for what you did this week, and one tweet for any issues you are encountering. I must admit, when Steve suggested this I was very intrigued.

(check out his BLOG if you haven’t already. They contain excellent posts and articles: WinnipegAgilist.)

I did some looking on the internet and I mostly found mentions of Tweet Ups. These Tweet Ups were a take off of the Meet Ups concepts and not really the same type of meetings as we were discussing. These Tweet Ups were in person meetings of people who had communicated mainly via twitter. Definitely a different purpose.

One of the sources I found that described these Tweet Ups was the Social Media Examiner website:

Since I did not find any mention of a recent post discussing this Twitter Stand Up idea, I thought I would create one. 🙂

A Solution

I did find one tool that leverages twitter to do exactly what we were discussing. ( Group Tweet allows you to set up a new Twitter Project Account that can implement this Twitter Status Reporting. All that is required is that project team members follow the Twitter Project Account and the Twitter Project Account approves that the project team members can follow the Twitter Project Account. Once that is set up, any tweets sent to the Twitter Project Account will be re-distributed to each team member via direct messages. The Twitter Project Account can even be made private so that other Twitter users would not be able to search for the Project Twitter Account and possibly see the tweets. For this type of Twitter Project Accounts, it seems reasonable that they would all be set up as private twitter accounts. Awesome.

The Benefits

The real benefits I see from this type of approach is as follows:

  1. As we discussed, it will provide the focus on content and brevity that will help to focus the Daily Stand ups.
  2. This practice can be leveraged for remote teams. In fact, this structure will probably return more value for remote teams as it facilitates that all team members are treated equal and that local team members are not allowed to monopolize the discussions because they are in person.
  3. The stand ups because of the Twitter usage become self-documenting. 🙂 This is perhaps one of the most exciting benefits as the meetings don’t require any additional documentation and provide a chronological history of the stand ups. This can be invaluable when we need to refer back to the status of items.
  4. Pictures, Diagrams, and other content can also be shared via Tweets as part of the status reporting. For example, This can be a very powerful way to share this information and these pictures and diagrams are also self-documented and get integrated into the history of the stand ups

I believe the concept is compelling enough to try on our current project in the near future. As usual, I’m sure it doesn’t apply equally to all projects and situations, but for some projects I could see the benefit it would provide. If anyone knows of a source that discussed this previously I would appreciate it if you could comment and pass those sources on. I would like to provide references if this has already been discussed.

Author: Terry Bunio

Terry Bunio is passionate about his work as the Manager of the Project Management Office at the University of Manitoba. Terry oversees the governance on Information Technology projects to make sure the most important projects are being worked on in a consistent and effective way. Terry also provides leadership on the customized Project Methodology that is followed. The Project Methodology is a equal mix of Prince2, Agile, Traditional, and Business Value. Terry strives to bring Brutal Visibility, Eliminating Information islands, Right Sizing Documentation, Promoting Collaboration and Role-Based Non-Consensus, and short Feedback Loops to Minimize Inventory to the Agile Project Management Office. As a fan of pragmatic Agile, Terry always tries to determine if we can deliver value as soon as possible through iterations. As a practical Project Manager, Terry is known to challenge assumptions and strive to strike the balance between the theoretical and real world approaches for both Traditional and Agile approaches. Terry is a fan of AWE (Agile With Estimates), the Green Bay Packers, Winnipeg Jets, and asking why?

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