Team Time: developing efficient team communication
Avoiding the overrunning daily Stand-Up
At Infinity Works we use an agile way of working which usually includes a daily Stand-Up. This 5-10 minute timeboxed meeting allows the team to provide an update and more importantly raise any issues they are facing. Our team uses the format of what they did yesterday (to achieve the team’s goal), what they are working on that day (to achieve the team’s goal), and anything that might prevent them from progressing with their work.
Like most teams, it wasn’t uncommon for us to get side tracked or to start exploring a solution during the Stand-Up, leading to long Stand-Up times and using up team member’s time who might have better things to be doing.
Also finding time where the whole team is free or not buried in their work to discuss something could be tricky. This caused discussions to take place without all of the team and encouraged silo working. Or even worse, discouraged team members from discussing something and becoming the single point of failure.
Arriving at the solution
We decided to block out some time, 30-60 minutes daily, after a Stand-Up for the team to discuss ideas/solutions, draft weeknotes, or new technical approaches the team had found to improve our work. We fondly named this Team Time.
Team Time is an entirely optional session which can be skipped if the team agree they don’t need to use the time. It gives the team a buffer zone that they are free to use. If something is brought up during Stand-Up that requires further discussion, we can park it for Team Time and get on with the usual Stand-Up format.
It is important however, that we don’t allow Team Time to get out of hand so it is limited to 1 hour. This prevents us eating into productivity and aids in focusing conversations or presentations to keep them on point. We go straight into Team Time after the Stand-Up and agree an agenda from the offset to keep a clear structure.
Clear benefits of Team Time
After utilising Team Time over the past few months, we have found it massively improves our focus in Stand-Ups and has increased the team’s knowledge and understanding of the work we are doing.
It is the perfect chance for knowledge sharing and providing feedback, as well as allowing for focused discussions on solutions the team are working on that would side-track Stand-Ups. Essentially allowing the team to mob on a solution before getting stuck into the tasks.
Dedicated Team Time also allows the team to share ideas or showcase technical achievements to the wider team. If we feel these are useful we can even take them to the wider Infinity Works team to increase knowledge across the organisation.
Team Time is now firmly embedded in our daily work culture, with everyone in agreement that it is a huge improvement. Putting aside an hour each day has actually enabled us to save more time and move faster as we go into productivity time fully informed and with a clear vision of what we are trying to achieve.