Why Stand during the Daily Scrum?

I’ve been asked this question surprisingly often in recent training classes and coaching engagements. The easy answer is that standing with your teammates for a few minutes every day is a part of Scrum.

“You’ll have to do better than that….”

Okay, let’s do better then. In my experience, teams that stand during the daily Scrum:

  • Display a higher energy level
  • Speak more directly and to the point, referring to defined tasks
  • Are more willing to ask for help
  • Engage their teammates rather than reporting to the ScrumMaster
  • Are more likely to raise impediments
  • Talk about 50% less, but convey twice as much meaning
  • Leave the daily Scrum energized and ready to work
  • Find the daily Scrum a vital part of their day

On the other hand, teams that sit during the daily Scrum:

  • Display a lower energy level, both in the content of their discourse and in their body language
  • Tend not to refer to defined tasks
  • Get bogged down in reporting minutiae
  • Tend to report to the ScrumMaster
  • Are easily diverted off-topic
  • Spend the entire meeting looking at mobiles/laptops
  • Hold side conversations
  • Rarely raise impediments
  • Talk about twice as much, but convey far less meaning to their teammates
  • Leave the daily Scrum bored and disengaged
  • See the daily Scrum as useless and sometimes drop the practice entirely

These results are subjective, based solely on three years of observing Scrum teams in action. On the other hand, these observations are extremely consistent across teams, organizations, and industries.

I think the big difference between sitting and standing is the signal it sends that the daily Scrum is not just another corporate waste-of-time snooze-fest meeting. The daily Scrum is of, by, and for the team. The symbolism of standing in a closed circle also reinforces the rational and emotional concept of “team.”

As with most of the Scrum/agile practices, there’s more going here on than meets the eye. And just because something isn’t obvious doesn’t mean it can be safely ignored. So suspend disbelief and try standing up. It might just be the catalyst that helps your team re-discover its energy and focus.

All for now….