Is it Dysfunctional to Sit at Your Stand-up?

It’s called the daily standup for a reason.  It happens daily and you standup.  Why do you standup?  You stand-up in order to keep the meeting short.  Each team member should answer 3 quick questions:

  1. what did I do yesterday?
  2. what am I planning on doing today?
  3. what’s in my way?

I’m amazed at all the grumbling I hear from new teams I work with about these evil Agile people are forcing you to stand-up when Ken’s book clearly says you don’t have to stand!  Actually, one of the team members actually threw that in my face so I re-iterated the purpose of the stand-up to them.

Bob Hartman tweeted me with a great idea a while back.  Why not let them sit?  Simply plot along how much time they take to do the standup when sitting vs standing.  The team admitted to me that when I wasn’t there they would sit down so I didn’t want to be forcing them to do something they were against.  Isn’t it a bit more Agile to let the team do what works for them as opposed to being worried about breaking the golden rule of standing up?

Here’s the observations after a few iterations of comparing sitting vs standing.  To put some context around it, our team isn’t completely co-located.  We’re all in the same general area and a few sit next to each other but since we’re in a huge environment we agreed (as a team!) to do our standups in a neutral area so we don’t bug the people around us.  Oddly enough there is a waterfall in the building, that’s where we do our standups.

When standing:

  • people drift further apart as it goes on
  • body language is terrible, they seem to be there out of habit, but they do still get value out of it without really realizing it
  • they address me, the coach and temporary Scrum Master
  • averaging about 12 – 15 minutes
  • each person answers their 3 questions (except for blocks, I usually just recognize them and so do other team members)
  • seems very regimented in nature and not natural

When sitting

  • they sit closer together
  • body language is MUCH better, they actually lean in towards each other
  • they address EACH OTHER.  Sometimes they look at me but they are more team focused for some reason
  • averaging 15 – 20 minutes, still followed by follow-up conversations
  • they do get sidetracked by trying to address blocks and I have to reign them in more often to stay on track

So far the experiment is showing me that they are getting much more value out of sitting than standing.  Sure they are taking a few minutes longer and I have to pull them back on track sometimes, but they are much more engaged and working together while sitting.

I’m sure part of what helps with sitting is that we have to walk to another part of the building as we don’t have a dedicated team room yet so I’ll follow-up with another post once we have that environment.

Do your teams sit?  Would love to hear your stories.