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!

Leave a Reply

What is 3 + 5 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
Please do this simple sum so I know you are human:)

There are 101 ways to approach anything.
To find the best way, sometimes you need expert help

What People Say

“Kelly revolutionised the way our digital department operated. A true advocate of agile principles, he quickly improved internal communication within our teams and our internal clients by aligning our business and creating a much enhanced sense of transparency in the decisions the business was making. Kelly also introduced a higher sense of empowerment to the development teams...”


“Kelly’s a leading program director with the ability to take charge from day one and keep strong momentum at both a program and project level driving prioritisation, resourcing and budgeting agendas. Kelly operates with an easy-going style and possesses a strong facilitation skill set. From my 5 months experience working with Kelly, I would recommend Kelly to program manage large scale, complex, cross company change programs both from a business and IT perspective.”


“Kelly is an extremely talented and visionary leader. As such he manages to inspire all around him to achieve their best. He is passionate about agile and has a wealth of experience to bring to bear in this area. If you're 'lucky' he might even tell you all about his agile blog. Above all this, Kelly is great fun to work with. He is always relaxed and never gets stressed - and trust me, he had plenty of opportunity here! If you get the chance to work with Kelly, don't pass it up.”


“Kelly is an Agile heavy-weight. He came in to assess my multi-million $ Agile development program which wasn’t delivering the right throughput. He interviewed most of the team and made some key recommendations that, when implemented, showed immediate results. I couldn’t ask for more than that except he’s a really nice guy as well.”


“Kelly and I worked together on a very large project trying to secure a new Insurer client. Kelly had fantastic commercial awareness as well as his technical expertise. Without him I would never had secured this client so I owe a lot to him. He is also a really great guy!”


“Kelly came to the department and has really made a huge impact on how the department communicates, collaborates and generally gets things done. We were already developing in an agile way, but Kelly has brought us even more into alignment with agile and scrum best practices, being eager to share information and willing to work with us to change our processes rather than dictate how things must be done. He is highly knowledgable about agile development (as his active blog proves) but his blog won't show what a friendly and knowledgeable guy he is. I highly recommend Kelly to anyone looking for a CTO or a seminar on agile/scrum practices - you won't be disappointed!”


“Kelly was a great colleague to work with - highly competent, trustworthy and generally a nice bloke.”


“Kelly was engaged as a Program Director on a complex business and technology transformation program for Suncorp Commercial Insurance. Kelly drew on his key capabilities and depth of experience to bring together disparate parties in a harmonised way, ensuring the initiate and concept phases of the program were understood and well formulated. Excellent outcome in a very short time frame. ”


“I worked with Kelly on many projects at IPC and I was always impressed with his approach to all of them, always ensuring the most commercially viable route was taken. He is great at managing relationships and it was always a pleasure working with him.”


“I worked with Kelly whilst at Thoughtworks and found him to be a most inspiring individual, his common-sense approach coupled with a deep understanding of Agile and business makes him an invaluable asset to any organisation. I can't recommend Kelly enough.”


“Kelly was a brilliant CTO and a great support to me in the time we worked together. I owe Kelly a great deal in terms of direction and how to get things done under sometimes difficult circumstances. Thanks Kelly.”