Who should cross question developers in not so self organized team?

Last post 01:55 pm January 21, 2019
by vishal Rajadhyaksha
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10:53 am January 18, 2019

Often I have observed, managers expect scrum master to cross question developers on completion of work, time taken and even scrum masters are held responsible for unfinished work.  Ideally, during standup the development team should discuss about what they are doing to achieve sprint goal and what how are they going to fix the problem? (If at all they can, else Scrum Master is always there).

As per the scrum guide scrum master is only responsible for making sure the team has daily standup. But, if team members are simply giving updates, if required is it okay for Scrum Master to jump in and cross question to developer about below questions? If the answer is NO, will it be correct to say--> No matter what , scrum master should not jump in standup unless he wants to discuss about impediments ?

a. When do you think you can complete this task ?

B. How confident are you to complete this task in the time frame mentioned by you?

C. Because you are not completing task A, John is not able to start task B. So, can you please let the team know when can you complete this?

Who is supposed to ask these questions? As I mentioned in a scenario when all developers are simply giving their updates and nothing more , till the team becomes self organized, is it okay for Scrum Master to ask similar Qs.? and will it be false to say - If team misses the sprint goal , entire team is responsible but Scrum Master is MORE responsible ??

I hope I have given enough clarity on what I am trying to ask.

 

 

12:23 pm January 18, 2019

The Daily Scrum is where a Scrum Master takes off the training wheels for self organization.  The Daily is a meeting for the Development Team to talk to one another, and to plan their work for the day.  They should be inspecting the Sprint Backlog, and talking about what to focus on to meet the Sprint goal.

As a Scrum Master you teach them the purpose and the reason why the event is held, teach them to keep it to 15 minutes, listen for any impediments, and help others (including managers) to let the Development Team have their space to collaborate and focus.

Sounds like you have some work to do at the Sprint Retrospective.  I have had the Development Team read the Daily Scrum section of the Scrum Guide and teach it back to me, then answer questions, to help them get it.

02:12 pm January 18, 2019

if team members are simply giving updates, if required is it okay for Scrum Master to jump in and cross question to developer about below questions?

Perhaps it would be wiser for the Scrum Master to address why the team is simply giving updates, and coach them to develop a shared plan for the next 24 hours. Compensating for a lack of collaboration by leading discussions is not a management technique likely to be adopted by a Scrum Master.

04:03 pm January 18, 2019

Thanks Ian and Chris for guiding this.

I am sure number of scrum masters must be same doubt and these answers are very helpful.

04:49 pm January 18, 2019

I recently inherited a team from a departing Scrum Master.  They went without a SM for a sprint while we worked out logistics.  In that single sprint, they reverted back to a daily status meeting.  I watched their Daily Scrum for 2 days and decided to "help them out".  On the 3rd day, I let them do their thing.  Then I asked them if I could pose a couple of questions to them (notice I asked not just jumped in and confronted them).  The 2 questions I asked were

  • Does each of you know what the other people on the team will be working on until the next Daily Scrum?
  • Does each of you know if anyone feels that there is danger in completing the work you forecast to be done during the Sprint?

At that point, they had a discussion and found out that none of them could answer that question for everyone in the team.  The next day's Scrum was completely different.  

A Scrum Master should never "cross" or "confront" the team. They should always coach. And you need to honor the purpose of all events even more than the rest of the team so that you can lead by example. In the case of the Daily Scrum, your job is to help the entire Scrum Team understand the purpose, honor the time box and prevent any individual outside of the Development Team from interrupting or trying to be involved.  That 15 minutes is for the Development Team and the Development Team only. 

I like @Chris' suggestion of having them read the section of the Scrum Guide.  I've tried that but if it isn't written code a lot of my developers have a hard time reading it.  :-(

01:26 pm January 19, 2019

Ian says:

"Perhaps it would be wiser for the Scrum Master to address why the team is simply giving updates, and coach them to develop a shared plan for the next 24 hours"

What could next happen after we discuss such issue and still there are persons who are not open to share their thoughts with others ? We cannot force anyone to our way of working. 

Say, the organization adapted agile way of working, but due to inertia some people - also managers - still work "old way". I guess we should accept this. 

Regards,

 

01:55 pm January 21, 2019

A Scrum Master should never "cross" or "confront" the team. They should always coach.

Noted !

 

What could next happen after we discuss such issue and still there are persons who are not open to share their thoughts with others ? We cannot force anyone to our way of working. 

This kind of people do exist in almost all projects and as you have said, if introvertness is part of their personality, scrum master can help only to certain extent.

Thanks guys for your valuable time.