Agile for Executives: Using the daily standup meeting as a C-Suite tool

Recently, the Harvard Business Review did a featured set of articles on the practice of agile. Initially created as a better framework for building software, agile has begun finding its way into business functions — today you see it in use across marketing, operations, and even sales teams. Senior executives looking to improve communication amongst their leadership team, remove organizational silos, and increase their organization’s velocity, should strongly consider taking a look at agile processes.

One specific example of an agile tool that works well with senior leaders: the daily standup, also known as “the daily huddle.” The daily huddle gives busy senior executives a common time and place to discuss issues, challenges, and team activities. The ultimate goal is to identify blockers between organizations and find ways to quickly and effectively mitigate them.

How it works: A dedicated time is set on the calendar for 15 minutes per day for the leadership team to get together. Each team member makes every effort to attend at the time; the meeting is not rescheduled or moved if individuals can’t make it. In the busy world of executive travel, it is ok for team members to skip if needed. During the meeting, each team member answers 3 simple questions:

  • What are the highlights from your organization yesterday?
  • What is underway today?
  • What blockers are being raised that could be addressed?

Here are the 4 keys to making an executive huddle successful:

  • Educate, educate, educate: It may seem like a simple 15-minute meeting, however, the more you educate and coach the team on the goals and structure of the meeting, the better it will perform. If the CEO has an impression that the meeting is just time for them to provide a general update, the meeting will not be successful. Instead, educate the team on how to best run the daily huddle.
  • Commit to 15 minutes and stick to it: The meeting should be short and sweet. It should not seem like a chore or just another calendar meeting.
  • Use an independent and trained agile coach to implement the meeting: Don’t go it alone, executive time is too valuable. To get the maximum value out of the meeting, bring on an executive agile coach for a short period of time to get going.
  • Don’t make it a strategy meeting: The meeting is intended to help department heads serve as servant leaders and address issues that their teams may have. Strategy meetings should continue to remain separate.