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Paul Maloney

A friend who is an agile project manager found that people were still talking too long in meetings so he started bringing a large bowling ball to stand up meetings. When you speak, you hold the ball...

Nigel Collin - Thinkativity

Great post.

There's a great example of this in a business in Sydney called Atlassian, Their WIP meetings are short and standing. As a 'ideas' facilitator, I employ this always.

Thanks for the article

Jchyip

I wrote a fairly long article about subtle details of stand-ups in the Agile context: http://martinfowler.com/articles/itsNotJustStandingUp.html

BizfixUK

Hey it’s tough for us like-to-stand-in-meeting types. I think better when I’m on my feet, I make most of my phone calls walking around the office (hands-free helps) and if I can’t doodle on a whiteboard occasionally or even gaze out the window my thinking slows down. What this looks like to the untrained eye is that we like-to-stand-in-meeting types are somehow not concentrating, or not taking the meeting seriously.

Seriously if you find me sitting stock still looking like I’m paying rapt attention I’m probably being less efficient than if you could embrace my walking round while I talk to you approach.

Am I alone in this predilection?

Jeffrey Cufaude

Standing obviously engages the whole body in a way that sitting does not and often leads to more animated gestures and different physical proximity in a group. Moreover, if people are engaged in creating something or looking at something, standing changes what you see and your relationships to the object, often triggering fresh thinking.

As a facilitator, I find it particularly useful to toss in some discussions during a long day that invite people to conduct brief stand-up conversations around a topic in a self-organizing fashion or to partner up with someone from another table and talk about a topic. As one of the other commenters shared, we need to be sensitive to people's physical capabilities. I try to make the initial invitation for the activity more inclusive by inviting people to "gather around" and stand if they find that comfortable. Most do, but some don't since it isn't expressed initially as a requirement.

When I was on the staff of a professional association, we started each day with a brief all-staff standup meeting with a cup of coffee, sharing quick updates and getting brief input from our colleagues on critical questions. It was a great way to engage in the morning.

Bob Sutton

Mary and Ksol,

Thanks for making such thoughtful comments. Mary, your comment about hidden disabilities is really important and I am so glad you added it. Indeed, sometimes people don't act as we want and expect just because we don't know enough about their challenges. Ksol, I agree completely about the point of the meeting. Indeed some years back or students did an intervention into a broken company meeting -- ironically Perry was CEO at the time -- and among the biggest problems was that the point was clear (and time management was bad). As part of the solution, it changed from a stand up to sit down meeting -- but the problem was it was really too long for stand-up given what they needed to accomplish. Thanks again to both of you, really great comments.

Mary

The idea is not bad, but you need to be careful that you don't establish a tradition that accidentally makes it difficult for people with hidden disabilities.

I am chronically ill. Some days, I cannot stand for more than 5 minutes at a time without pain. I work in a very supportive organization where I am open about my challenges, with no problems. But I have been in a class once that (unexpectedly) involved group work standing around the board, with people unfamiliar to me. I had to sit down and someone immediately questioned that, in a disapproving tone, because this looked like I was not fully participating. And, in fact, I wasn't: once I was below everyone's eye level, it was very difficult to contribute to the discussion. The room was not set up to allow everyone to sit down around me, either.

I am fine with asking for accommodation as needed, but it inevitably puts you on the spot. So I'd rather that my manager had tools to improve meetings that do not rely on (even minor) physical discomfort, because a slight inconvenience for most people may in fact be a big problem for one person, and there can be many reasons of why they would not want to call attention to it.

ksol

To a certain extent, I don't think it matters as much whether you sit or stand as much as whether you have a point to the meeting, and the time/space/seating (or not) arrangement is appropriate to what needs to be covered.

We've just gone from a standup meeting for my workgroup to a sitdown, and people seem happier. The meetings are better organized, and setting aside some sit-down time allows us to spend about half of each on training. We only officially meet once a month. If we don't have an agenda or purpose, I hope I'll have enough sense to cancel the meeting for the month.

When we did standups, because they were supposed to be short, we really didn't have a lot prepared, and they became pointless. Our workgroup seems to like to set aside a little more time if they get a little more depth out of the meeting. They'd rather have a 1-hour meeting where something is accomplished and they learn something, as opposed to a 15-20 minute meeting where they show up and aren't sure why.

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