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Have You Tried the “Sorkin Stand”?

A Daily Scrum Method to Improve Your Team’s Focus and Make Your Employees Happier

Emily Wilson
Technical Program Manager
June 22, 2018

Working in an agile environment comes with one certainty: the Daily Scrum, also known as the stand-up meeting.Using this meeting to increase team or project efficiency while keeping the meeting itself efficient is often a tricky balance that many find themselves regularly iterating upon. Enter: the Sorkin Stand.

Aaron Sorkin is a highly respected screenwriter, well-known for his heavy use of the Walk and Talk, a storytelling technique that adds a heightened sense of drama or urgency to scenes by specifying that characters walk as they converse. While Sorkin’s The West Wing is fondly remembered for this technique, my personal favorite example is when Sorkin himself parodies his style in a scene of the 30 Rock episode “Plan B,” explaining screenwriting to Tina Fey’s character, Liz Lemon, while walking her in a circle.

Whenever department-wide meetings ran past time and cut into our scheduled Daily Scrum, my team would take care of “stand” (as we affectionately call it) as we walked back to our desks. We were already on our feet, so why not? Not only could we make up for lost time, but distractions were limited; my team and I could more easily think about the day as a whole without relying on our monitors in the moment. But why not start doing Scrum with movement every day, not just when it’s necessary?

Just as removing chairs from a Scrum has made it more efficient, I believe that adding movement is the next evolution of the Daily Scrum.

Smart people doing interesting work

Just as removing chairs from a Scrum has made it more efficient, I believe that adding movement is the next evolution of the Daily Scrum. Studies have shown the positive effects of moving while trying to learn and retain information and how regular exercise can improve thinking skills. Maybe it’s the next evolution of meetings altogether.

On an anecdotal note, my best friend and I would go to the gym to walk on the treadmills as we studied for college exams. We alternated between silent reading and quizzing each other. Introducing movement increased our engagement with the class, leading us to to discuss our studies any time we were at the gym together, not just before exams. And, while I am not a runner, my pacing was much better during a recent 5k where I opted to listen to an audiobook instead of music. Whether interaction makes exercise more productive or vice versa might be a “chicken or the egg” scenario, but what matters is that they both contribute to the health and happiness of your employees.

Every team is different with its own unique challenges. If your team is global, you may be reliant on a stagnant camera for Daily Scrums and team meetings. Accessibility should always be considered as well. But if your team is able to give the “Sorkin Stand” a try, please do. Let me know what you think! If you’ve brainstormed ways to make the Sorkin Stand work in a way that’s more inclusive, please share that too.