This writing is to share a super simple exercise that could give your team a big boost.
Laughter at the office
Some seasons ago I worked in a big open-space office, with lots of Scrum-boards and teams. There was one stand-up with around 20 people occuring each morning that really fascinated me. What they did was that they ended meeting by raising their arms up in the air and then laughing out loud! Wow… What a great way to start the day! There was a guy with a turban who facilitated this.
Adopting to our team
Today I am in another office, Kanban coach for a team of 7-10 people, including requirement people, testers and developers. We work distributed, half team in Stockholm, Sweden and one half in Delhi, India. We have recurring retrospecitves every second week. We practice the five-stage retrospective from Esther Derby and Diana Larsen’s book “Agile Retrospectives”.
The other day I asked a team colleague Ashish (from India) about this thing I had seen with the laughing team. Ashish explained that it sounded like Dr. Madan Kataria’s Laughter Yoga and that it is a well-known thing in India.
This reminded me of something Andy Hunt predicted on a seminar 2006 (almost ten years ago!!): “In the future, each office will have 15 minutes of yoga at work”.
So, on the next retrospective I suggested to the team that we could try to do some laughter. I explained what I had witnessed, and said I would like us to try it. “So please follow the facilitator’s instructions” I said (giggles and scared looks), I raised arms and did some laughing. Kamal, one of the developers that is also from Delhi, commented that you are supposed to inhale before exhaling and laughing out. He said that it is a Yoga exercise and that it should be repeated five times. We settled with two and went on with it. We did this in the “Set the stage” phase.
Why do something like this?
There are lots of studies out there about the good effects of laughter. Even a smile does lots of things, to yourself and your environment. In addition, when laughing out loud together with the people you work with everyday you will (likely) get a great feeling in the team. It’s fun in the moment, you have enough value right there! But then something also happens to you when doing this. I cannot put the finger on it, but it is like you get a good will, a peaceful intention, from the people involved.
If you are, like me, not very familiar with Laughter Yoga, you might want to check some of these links:
Here’s the retrospective all together:
Set the stage
Dr Madan Kataria’s Laughter Yoga (5 mins)
– stand up
– inhale and raise arms up in the air
– exhale and laugh out loud
– repeat 1-4 times
divide up in teams of 3 in each. Have smaller group discussions on things that went well and can be improved. Write ideas down on post-its (20 mins)
Present for the team the two most urgent issues from the group talk (20 mins)
Decide what to do