I read a post called “All Hail the Stand-Up Meeting” by Stephen J. Dubner on the “Freakonomics: The Hidden Side of Everything” blog website. I really thought the post was interesting and unique, but at the same time extremely relevant and profound. It offers an alternative to mainstream business practices by advocating for stand-up meetings.
Before reading this post, I had never really considered the idea of stand-up meetings seriously. I guess it just didn’t seem practical to me. Why stand when you can sit? But, then I got to thinking and I thought about the summer when I worked as a waitress. Our pre-shift meetings always required us to stand. And these meetings were very efficient. The managers briefly talked about things that we, as a team, were doing successfully, and they also brought up things that we needed to do better. They gave us updates and reminders. Then, we were allowed to discuss any issues that we felt needed to be addressed. All in all, the meetings were short and to the point. A lot was accomplished and it was done so in a quick manner, usually about 5-7 minutes. There is no time for sitting around in the restaurant industry, unless of course, you are the guest.
I think that stand-up meetings are definitely beneficial to an organization. The central idea is efficiency, resulting from short, to the point meetings. First of all, standing at a meeting allows for a nice break from sitting at your desk all morning. You can stretch your legs for a few minutes and increase blood flow to the area. Second, at the meeting, standing keeps the attendees listening and engaged. Also, the group is more focused on the meeting and the discussion as they are not comfortable seated in a position that encourages the mind to wander off topic. Finally, stand-up meetings require less resources, for example chairs and tables are unnecessary. A number of companies have adopted stand-up meetings over the years and for good reason, as they are getting more done.
I looked for more information online with respect to stand-up meetings, and I found an article by Rachel Silverman called “No More Angling for the Best Seat; More Meetings Are Stand-Up Jobs” in the Wall Street Journal. She writes that stand-up meetings are part of a fast-moving tech culture because apparently sitting has become synonymous with laziness and inactivity. The object is to eliminate long-winded conversations where participants lecture, use their smartphones or zone out completely.
Furthermore, a study in 1998 by Allen Bluedorn, a business professor at the University of Missouri, found that standing meetings were about a third shorter than sitting meetings and the decision-making was just as effective. Additionally, not surprisingly, Tyler Cowen’s “Discover Your Inner Economist”, which offers radical ideas for improving meetings, advocates the strategy of making everyone stand up for the duration of the meeting. He says this cuts down on chatter and side conversations, which ultimately makes the meeting more productive.
If you are interested in learning more, here is a short video, which details the premise of stand-up meetings and the different strategies associated with them . I suspect that this is only the beginning of the stand-up meeting trend, and that we are likely to see its popularity grow in the future.