The Agile Mindset Blog

The Sit-Down Stand-Up

The Sit-Down Stand-Up

Convention says that the daily Scrum should always be done standing up. Staying on our feet helps keep the team focused, prevents long-winded conversations that wander off-topic and avoids the feeling of doing a status meeting. So sitting down during a daily scrum is always bad, right?

Not necessarily. In short, it depends how and where you are sitting.

The default location for so many meetings is a conference room. The problem is, few people have happy associations with conference rooms. So often they are bland, windowless rooms that we go into for job interviews, annual reviews and a host of other activities that leave us either filled with anxiety or bored out of our minds.

So we get into a conference room, sit down around a rectangular table to do the daily Scrum and all those old associations get triggered. Not the best environment for open and transparent communication. The problem isn’t being seated—it is being seated in a conference room.

My friends at iParadigms in Newcastle, UK have neatly side-stepped that problem. They do have their daily Scrum sitting down but the whole process is conducted in a space they simply refer to as “The Blue Couch”. A large comfy sofa is set up in front of a TV, where they display their Scrum task board in Jira.  Extra chairs around the back can be drawn in to accommodate additional people. The whole thing looks less like a meeting and more like a group of friends getting together to watch a soccer match or play video games.

And their body posture mirrors what you would expect in a social setting as well. As soon as they settle into the sofa they adopt a social, “open” body posture, as opposed to the closed, defensive posture many people unconsciously assume when meeting in a conference room. The communication in the daily Scrum is brief, effective and relaxed. It is as though someone said. “Have a seat and let’s have a quick chat about what we’re doing today.”

This is what the daily Scrum was always meant to be. It is not a “status update” or a way to micromanage the team’s time. It was and is simply meant to be a “quick chat” about what’s happening that day—who is doing what, any blocking issues team members are experiencing and any other information to share that would help the day flow more smoothly.

So whether you do your daily Scrum standing up or sitting down, look for ways to make everyone feel more relaxed. Try to avoid conference rooms and instead hold your daily Scrum in an environment that feels friendly and social. ScrumMasters should make an effort to use speech patterns that are less “project manager-ish” (“Joe, what did you do yesterday and what are you doing today?”) and instead focus on friendly, open inquiry (“Joe, what’s up for you today?”).  Watch your team’s body posture to see if you are getting it right.  And if all else fails, get yourself a big, comfortable couch and do your daily Scrum there. You may find that when your team can relax, everyone starts to enjoy and get more use out of your daily “quick chats.”

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