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Dear Agile: Not Your Average Stand-Up

This post is in Excella’s Dear Agile series of blog posts.

DEAR AGILE: Recently, a colleague brought up a team that does "plank stand-up" – that is, everyone assumes the plank position (an abdominal exercise) during stand-up to ensure that it goes quickly. Your colleagues’ obvious suffering is a visual reminder to be conscious…

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August 15, 2017

This post is in Excella’s Dear Agile series of blog posts.

DEAR AGILE: Recently, a colleague brought up a team that does “plank stand-up” – that is, everyone assumes the plank position (an abdominal exercise) during stand-up to ensure that it goes quickly. Your colleagues’ obvious suffering is a visual reminder to be conscious of your use of their time, forcing the team to really think about what information needs to be said. No one wants to be the person that made everyone else suffer.

— WALKING THE PLANK


DEAR WALKING THE PLANK,

While the only planks I’ve done have been at the gym, I’ve heard the stories about Daily Plank Meetings, along with a bunch of other Daily Stand-Up variations.

Teams should feel empowered to experiment and discover what works best for them.

Team-specific Daily Stand-Up agreements can be a way for a team to express its personality, have a little fun, and hold each other accountable. Some of my past teams have experimented with collecting a small fine for arriving late, passing around a speaking token, and using a code word to call out that someone’s gone on a tangent.

None of these examples, or planks, are good recommendations for every team. It’s about what works best for your team and that can change over time.

The questions I’d ask are:

  • Will this change help us get the intended value out of the meeting?
    A clear, concise Daily Stand-Up update is great – but a 15 second update that fails to share relevant info and help team members connect isn’t very valuable.
  • Are all team members comfortable with the proposed change?
    If yes, great – add it to the team’s working agreement and give it a try.

If you do try an activity like this, don’t forget to revisit it at a future Retrospective. Once the team’s built good habits, they’ll probably be happy to leave the suffering behind.

 

About the Author

Julie Wyman is an Agile Coach with Excella Consulting. She is a Certified Scrum Professional (CSP) with over 8 years of experience working in IT. She is always looking for new simulations to help teams learn and ways to make meetings more engaging and interactive.

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