Where should I sit?

This content is syndicated from Agile Advice - Working With Agile Methods (Scrum, OpenAgile, Lean) by Mike Caspar. To view the original post in full, click here.

Inevitably, there will be some change to your team.  Someone will leave or perhaps you will have new members joining you. Either way, you will be asked the question “Where should I sit?”. Do not take this question lightly.  You have the opportunity to make significant changes with the addition or departure of a team member. There are many different types of personalities in a team.  Because of this, you cannot realistically expect the same personal interactions between people sitting next to each other. More importantly though, it is your responsibility as a Scrum Master, Mentor or Coach to consider the positive adjustments which can be made during this great opportunity for change. A simple example to get you thinking about this could be….
  • You have a developer sitting at an end station with a slightly restricted view from the rest of the team.
  • This team member does not ask for help when he or she needs it.
  • You will be adding a developer to your team.
Trying to talk to the developer who does not ask for assistance, may help.  However, why not consider using this opportunity to solve this problem in a different way. If the developer is moved to a more central location, they will not be as separated from the group.  Perhaps this would give them more opportunity to ask for help, increase their communication level with peers, and if you are lucky, the other team members will more easily recognize that this is happening an spur this person on to get them to ask for help.
So, where do you put a new developer ?… Certainly not off at the end by themselves.  The new person will feel isolated, and will have a harder time integrating. The team is already a very close unit and has gone through the team development stages of Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing.  With the addition of the new team member, this cycle will start again and will make it even harder for them if they are on their own at the end of the seating layout. Reminding the team of the four stages of team development before a new person comes on board can be a big help.  It reminds all team members of how hard it is to integrate new members and the likely result of the addition. Many people can get attached to their desks or workstations.  Therefore, moving people around in a traditional environment can be a painful experience.  In an Agile team, life is about change, adapting, adjusting to what is happening and making positive changes to improve productivity and enjoyment. As team members move locations, they will learn different skills and ideas from the person sitting next to them.  It will also be common place to adjust as necessary. Changing team member locations also helps change things up and gets rid of complacency.  A danger for an Agile Team is no longer attempting to make changes and progress because everything is “fine” or “perfect”.  If you are hearing these things from your team in Review or Retrospective meetings, perhaps it is time to change desks just to get change happening again. There may be other personality or non-team type things you wish to address.  Instead of bringing that person into an office and talking to them, you could solve things by simply changing desk locations. Better yet…..  If you have a team that has embraces and practices Consultative Decision Making, why not ask the Team where the new person should sit to be most effective!

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