Why are we standing?


A few months ago as I stopped to check in on a team during their daily scrum and I saw something really interesting happen.  This team was co-located in a team room and were all sitting around a large conference table working collaboratively.  There were two large whiteboards on two walls of the team room and one wall held a large scrum board.

When it was time for the daily scrum one member of the team said, “It’s time for the scrum,” and started making open handed stand up motions to everyone encouraging them to rise from their seats for the “stand up” meeting.

The team all rose from their chairs and stood in position looking at one another and proceeded to answer “the three questions” diligently reporting the status of the work they were responsible for completing.

Again, a few weeks later I experienced a repeat of the same behavior from another team.  They were all working collaboratively in a room together when someone announced that it was time for the scrum.  Everyone stopped collaborating.  They stood up in their places around the table and began to give their status on the three questions.

Why is this behavior strange to me?  My question in response is, “In these circumstances, what value is standing adding?”  I know that there is a common teaching that teams should stand during the daily scrum because this contributes to the ability to keep the meetings short.  I’m not opposed to this opinion.  What I am opposed to is doing things that simply don’t make sense and contribute to waste.

The purpose of the daily scrum is for the team to collaborate and to make a plan for the next 24 hours.  I believe that pulling the team together to collaborate, especially if they can gather around a white board or a scrum board and actively discuss the work they are planning that standing adds value.  By not sitting down to have these quick planning sessions and holding them as stand-up at the white board or scrum board and collaborate sessions they stress that this is intentionally a quick brainstorming and planning session.  Sitting and camping out has the potential to turn a quick planning session into a much longer event.

But, for a team who is already actively collaborating to stop collaborating just to stand up and start giving a status report — this is an anti-pattern.  Or for a team to stand up and face one another when there is a white board and a scrum board that would enhance collaboration – standing up is simply wasted effort and quite possibly an example what many call cargo culting.  i.e. They don’t understand the value of what they are doing.  They are just doing what they have seen others do because they like the results they have seen others get.

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