Software Companies: The New Meeting Gurus

8 Feb

Are Meetings Currently Operating at Full Capacity?

Internal meetings have always been an important part of maintaining a company’s culture. In these meetings, the presenters and facilitators aim to keep the workers cohesive, maintain a constant update on the firm’s various projects, and inform the employees of the current state of the company. Almost every meeting follows the same standard rules: the meeting is mandatory, do not be late, do not have side conversations during the presentation; however, these same companies have problems with starting late, tabling discussions, and staying focused on a task. Surprisingly, many software companies do not encounter these problems as often because they have found an efficient method for holding these meetings.

What is a Stand-Up Meeting?

Those in the software industry consider seated meetings to be unproductive, promote laziness, and cause a lack of focus. Therefore, in the last decade or so, software companies have adopted “stand-up meetings”. In these meetings, everyone is required to stand for the entire meeting, with an exception for those who are sick, pregnant, or have disabilities. Stand-up meetings rarely last more than five minutes and they often have consequences for tardiness, such as imposing a fee, having the late person sing, or requiring them to do physical activity. Contrary to what some may think, this practice did not originate recently; it actually comes from a method used by the military during the Civil War.

Why Now?

The increase in the use of stand-up meetings is currently encouraged by the growth of a popular approach to software development, called “Agile”. This program “calls for compressing development projects into short pieces”, as stated by Rachel Silverman of the Wall Street Journal. “Agile” encourages daily stand-up meetings to be used to briefly state three things for any current projects: what was done yesterday, what will be done today, and any present obstacles. This approach keeps the meeting short and sweet and makes it easier for listeners by giving only a few points to take away from day to day.

What are Other Currently Employed Unusual Techniques to Maintain Attention?

Many other companies have also recognized the need to keep the focus of the audience in daily company meetings. An engineering manager at Facebook Inc. claims that they schedule a daily meeting 15 minutes before lunch in order to encourage any speakers to keep updates and other announcements brief. Obie Fernandez, the founder of a software design firm in Florida says that “his team passes around a 10-pound medicine ball during stand-ups”. Although, I can see how this technique drives efficiency and promotes exercise, I feel like this technique might be pushing that already high benchmark just a little bit too much.

Any Last Thoughts?

So many software industries are raising the bar when it comes to their company’s daily meetings. Through their stand-up meetings, they are increasing the efficiency of the meetings; reducing wasted time, which translates into money for businesses; and avoiding tabling discussions. This system is so effective for tech industries that I wonder if any other industries will begin to adopt this method in the future.

by Whitley McDowell


One Response to “Software Companies: The New Meeting Gurus”

  1. Damir February 9, 2012 at 8:14 am #

    I can’t imagine an student group’s Exec. Board meeting carried out “stand-up” style, but I can definitely see how it promotes attentiveness and efficiency.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: