Antimatter Standup

Antimatter Standup

Many aspirationally Agile teams adopt a daily ritual called the “standup”. At each such event, typically lasting some ten to fifteen minutes, each person in the team, in turn, gets to answer three basic questions:

  • “What did I accomplish yesterday?”
  • “What will I do today?”
  • “What obstacles are impeding my progress?”

Teams that make it past the aspirationally agile stage, sooner or later come to regard this ritual as trite, mechanical, and adding little value to their efforts.

As an example of how the Antimatter Principle can bring more joy – and thus, more effectiveness – into various aspects of software development practices, here’s an outline of applying the principle to the daily standup.


Each person might choose to begin their part by expressing empathy for someone in the standup, for themselves (very important, from time to time), for some other stakeholder not present, for the team itself, for the work, or for the outcome.


“I’d like Josh to know I’m here for him this week.”

“It’s a tough sprint, but I’m still all-in.”

The Basic Four Steps

Following on from empathy, each person then has the option to run through the four steps of Nonviolent Communication and call to mind, and answer, four questions:

“What did I hear, see yesterday that was of note?”
“How did I feel about that?”
“What needs (of mine, of others) were, are not getting met?”
“What refusable requests might I make of those here (including myself) right now?”


And maybe then reflect on context:

“What needs of mine, other folks were met yesterday?”
“What needs of mine, other folks will I be attending to today?”
“What do I need?”

There are several needs to which a daily stand-up meeting might choose to attend:

  • To help start the day on a positive note.
  • To align folks’ attention on the immediately most important stuff of the moment.
  • To bring folks’ needs to mind.
  • To attend to the needs of the team-as-a-collective-entity.
  • To communicate what is going on.

As a mnemonic device, think of PANTS:
Positive start, Alignment, Needs, Team, Status

Of course, if these are not the need of the folks, in the moment, then maybe a daily standup is not the most effective means by which to attend to them.

If you’re needing to find more joy in work, to have a more effective standup, or just want to experience the Antimatter Principle in action, would you be willing to conduct an experiment with this approach?

– Bob

Further Reading

The Empathy Exercise – New England NVC Group

1 comment
  1. Lukasz said:

    Inspiring – thanks for the post 🙂 It meets my need for synergy between different ideas, processes and practices. It’s great to see how NVC could apply in software development.
    Still, it does not meet my need to feel confident about how to apply it in practice. My biggest concern is that it may be much easier to express empathy (or actually say anything to) those who are present. This my lead to a tendency loose stakeholders goals out of sight and focus too much on team. This is a theoretical thought. Do you have any experience of this practice to share? How would you make sure that team focues on stakeholders needs during such experiment?

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