5 Ways to Improve your LeanKit Standups


Have you ever thought about how your physical environment can dramatically improve your standup meetings around LeanKit boards?

As your team gathers around the board to ask questions and have a meaningful discussion about the work in progress, it’s important that everyone can see the same up-to-date view. Making your LeanKit boards more visible on a large monitor can help with this enormously, with the added benefit that if you conduct your standups in a high traffic area, then the TV used for standups can also act as an information radiator by displaying the board all the time.

Here are some hardware recommendations to consider based on the experience of our teams here at LeanKit as well as suggestions from our customers.

1. Standup meeting with a big touchscreen monitor and dedicated PC

LeanKit Standup meeting with a touchscreen monitor

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2.) Retired Desktop or Laptop PC

Teams that want to recreate an environment that resembles a physical board will frequently ask, “What type of touchscreen would you recommend?” To directly answer that question, we are fond of the ELO Touch brand. Here is a 55” touchscreen monitor that is currently retailing for around $4,600.

Touchscreens are a great way to simulate that physical, tactile feel of moving a sticky note from one part of the board to another. The monitor comes with the necessary cables but will require a dedicated PC. The PC doesn’t need to be anything special. In fact, save some money by repurposing an old laptop that is collecting dust. The laptop’s main requirements are compatibility with the software that comes with the monitor and at least one USB 2.0 port.

Lately, though, this isn’t our top recommendation. Firstly, it’s expensive, when compared to the other setups we recommend. Secondly, you’ll need to log in to LeanKit from the PC with a single user that always has access to move and edit cards on the board. This may be a concern if securing the board and traceability of actions are important to your team.

2. Standup meeting with a “Dumb” TV and Chromebox

LeanKit Standup meeting with a  'dumb' TV and a Chromebox

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A much less expensive alternative — and the one that we recommend — is to purchase a simple HDTV and an inexpensive Chromebox.

The TV doesn’t have to be special in any way. It doesn’t need to be a touchscreen or have internet capability. It really only needs to have one HDMI input. Recently, we have been purchasing this Vizio 55” HDTV for under $900.

The Chromebox is essentially a small computer that does little more than run a Chrome browser. We like this one from Asus for around $180. You’ll also need a keyboard and mouse. This integrated, wireless one is $30. We’ll talk about mounts in a bit, but our total thus far comes to around $1,110, which is far less than the touchscreen monitor.

Just like the touchscreen solution, you may log in to LeanKit on the Chromebox with a user that has access to move and create cards. However, it’s also possible to log in to LeanKit on the Chromebox with a user that has read-only permissions for that board. Thus, the TV on the wall truly becomes just an information radiator. For better security of the board and traceability of user actions, each individual attendee can update the board using their own login on their own device that they bring to the meeting.

3. Standup meeting with a “Dumb” TV, AppleTV, and the LeanKit iOS app

LeanKit Standup meeting with a 'dumb' TV and an AppleTV

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3.) Bring your own iOS device

You may conduct your standups in a meeting room or somewhere where you would rather turn off the board and the TV when not in use. If you already have an Apple device or two that regularly attend your standup, here’s another alternative.

Plug an AppleTV into that same Vizio and use AirPlay Mirroring to display the board from the LeanKit iOS app. You can pinch and zoom to focus on particular portions of the board, and you get a similar positive tactile feedback from moving cards around with your finger as you would with the large touchscreen monitor. Since the display isn’t on all the time, you won’t need to configure an additional LeanKit user for the TV. Best of all, you’ll save a few dollars on the hardware. This whole setup costs just under $1,000.

In our meeting rooms, we turn on AppleTV Conference Room Mode to display helpful AirPlay setup information. We also use this hack to disable distracting photo screensavers.

A Note on TV Mounts

Since these solutions center around a big TV or computer monitor, you will need mounting hardware. We recommend one of two solutions. For a wall mounting, we use CheetahMounts. They work great and are inexpensive. This one is under $30 and comes with a free HDMI cable. For a movable solution, we recommend this one from Tyke Supply for around $280. Take care to note the weight limitations of the mount you choose.

If you don’t have a spare HDMI cable laying around or don’t get a free one with your mount, get this one from Amazon for $6.

4. Leave Your Laptop

LeanKit Standup meeting with several mobile devices

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You may not need to update the board in every standup; but, if you do, what do you use? Many knowledge workers do most of their work on a desktop or laptop computer and have a full-featured browser at their fingertips to run LeanKit. However, a laptop — even a svelte Lenovo Yoga or a MacBook Air — is a clunky thing to hold and operate while you’re standing (remember, stand up!). The meeting is supposed to be short. Don’t spend more time unplugging your favorite monitor and mouse than you are going to spend in the meeting. Instead, bring your phone or tablet. LeanKit’s free Android and iOS apps provide all the tools you need to quickly create and update cards, as well as open and view card attachments.

5. Don’t Forget the Remotes!

LeanKit Standup meeting with a remote workers
One of the main reasons that LeanKit boards have become the centerpiece for standup meetings is that any time a team member updates a card from another desktop browser or from a mobile app the changes are instantly visible to everyone else on the team.

So regardless of whether you’re a collocated team looking at your LeanKit board on a big screen TV or monitor or whether you’re joining the meeting remotely, everyone has a shared view of what’s happening.

The Bottom Line

An important part of implementing LeanKit in your organization is setting up a great environment for standup meetings. In this post, we discussed several different hardware configurations that will hopefully lead to engaging and valuable standups. Whether you use a touchscreen to always display and edit the board in a prominent place, or you use a TV tucked away in a meeting room, take time to gather around your board and review your progress together.

Finally, if you’re new to standups — or if you’re looking to get your standup back on track — try the team-based activities in the Kanban Roadmap: How to Get Started in 5 Steps. Step three, “Gather ‘Round the Board,” includes three questions to keep your standups efficient and meaningful.

How have you configured your environment for LeanKit standups? Tweet your awesome pics to @LeanKit with hashtag #standup.

Daniel Norton

Daniel Norton is co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at LeanKit, where he leads several development teams. His previous engagements include native mobile app development with a small software consultancy and technical leadership at a large healthcare provider. Daniel is a polyglot with a passion for mastering emerging technologies and mentoring their adoption within development organizations. Follow him on Twitter @daniel_norton.

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