Forgive me. I didn’t have time to write a shorter letter.”

We are not talking necessarily about uni-dexterous people.

The basic idea of a stand-up is for the team to synchronise itself and self-organise around the sprint goal. However it is not uncommon for this understanding to be missing in practice. As an aside the difference between “not uncommon” and “common” is that the former is saying that  something is not rare, but not necessarily common and the later is taking about something that is common and it’s occurrence should be almost a given. Of course the phrase “not uncommon” can be used in a situation where someone is trying to be polite, or not give offence. Now John Major,  according to some sources (however questionable) took this to an art form, but there might indeed be a point in his manner of communication. Similar to Rumsfeld’s much pilloried “known unknowns….”, which actually had a very valid point, and even said so fairly directly, cannot provide certainty of not being misunderstood. Now, “not being misunderstood”, in light of the current discussion may seem to be different from “understood”, but the difference is difficult to discern. Indeed the only thing I can think of is that, “being understood” precludes obvious confusion, while “not being misunderstood” doesn’t. However where was I… ah, and maybe this is  one way in which someone speaking at a stand-up can meander all over the country. Indeed if you have senior managers present they feel even more inclined to blabber.  If you think all this is blabbering, then you are to be easily forgiven.. now, where was I? Ah…The stand-up, as people debate the recent developments and blocks and next steps, sorry they were not meant to debate, only discuss, or maybe just describe briefly during the stand-up. So coming back to the point, team members are taking in whatever information is being aired and are reacting to it. This manner of stand-up, especially if the prevailing corporate culture is wallowing in being politically correct, will invariable mean a lengthy discussion even as a part of the formal stand-up.

In case the team sees the stand-up as a pure status reporting, then mostly each person will provide a quick monologue to some extent in a forced or resigned manner, and not uncommonly,  even guarded; Now, I need not point out to an intelligent bystander, that “not uncommon” is not the same as “common”, however returning to the subject under discussion…such a team’s stand-up will be mostly pointless, and useful only to the manager/supervisor, if at all. So a short stand-up is not necessarily a good one! I must also caution that a pure status report generally places a strong temptation for people to look good, especially if senior management is present. A good case, for senior management to only rarely attending stand-ups or even better not at all.  In case the team is not too disengaged, there may be instances where impediments are aired but a bit late.  Now “not too disengaged” is different from engaged, something we’ve been discussing and defining but not debating. The engaged team is a different animal, but it could be a mixed blessing….

… especially if everyone is eager to show how good they are! Then they’ll talk and talk and not shut up. This is particularly true of Indians (As you can see from the writing above also as the saying goes “Put ten Chinese in a room, and you’ll never get any one to speak up, put ten Indians in a room, and you’ll never get them to …”

This is where the one-legged stand-up comes in: The team member speaking has to give his update standing on one leg. Of course he is free to choose which leg, as long as he is not one legged.