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Scrum master on daily sand up or not?

Last post 08:37 am March 13, 2019 by Olivier Ledru
8 replies
09:37 am March 8, 2019


As I have understood from the scrum guide/certification test questions, the development team are the owners of the daily stand up and the Scrum master is not attending. But, all organizations where I have been working, the Scrum master leads the daily scrum, and many or most examples of a daily scrum on Youtube shows the same. Have I understood something wrong?

07:34 pm March 8, 2019

You have the correct interpretation of the Scrum Guide.  The Daily Scrum's purpose is for the Development Team to plan their activities until the next Daily Scrum based on what they have learned since the last Daily Scrum.  As such the Development Team are the only "required" attendees and are the only contributing attendees.  It is ok for others to observe from a distance but they are not supposed to participate unless invited by the Development Team.  The Scrum Master usually attends but their role is to prevent the observers from injecting themselves into the conversation and allow the Development Team to achieve the goal of the event. 

I have been in a lot of organizations, including my current one, where Scrum Masters might facilitate the Daily Scrum.  Per the Scrum Guide ("Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed." that is correct if the Development Team requests it.  But you must be careful that the Development Team does not start talking to the Scrum Master and present status.  

Kanban practices usually have someone who directs the "walking of the board".  I know of many teams that adopt that method asking the Scrum Master to be the director.  

So it really depends on the needs of the Development Team.  The Daily Scrum is their event for a specific purpose for their benefit.  If they ask the Scrum Master to facilitate there is nothing wrong with it.  But it should not be something that a Scrum Master decides or even that the organization decides. 

10:09 pm March 8, 2019

Borrowing the theme from Geoff Watts' book "Scrum Mastery" (which I can highly recommend), I would like to add to Daniel's explanation: A good Scrum Master facilitates a Daily Scrum, upon request by the Development Team, in a way that the Development Team does not report to the Scrum Master. A great Scrum Master does so in a way that the Development Team requires and requests less facilitation by the Scrum Master in the future. 

I am pointing this out to emphasize the importance of self-organization of the Development Team. 

01:52 am March 9, 2019

Sadly the Scrum Master orchestrating the Daily is all too common.  Many will ask "well, what should the Scrum Master be doing then if he or she isn't running the Daily?".

This is where a Professional Scrum Master will take off the training wheels for the Development Team to begin to learn about self organization.

09:39 am March 9, 2019

In the same way, I had a story with one team member organizing a kind of kick-off meeting. Nice initiative from her.

At the beginning of the meeting, someone asked "Who will take notes of the meeting ?" and she answered "Well, Olivier will do it as he is the Scrum Master".

Then I proposed a "election without candidate" in a sociocratic way. She was elected even before I had the opportunity to vote and so I managed to escape the trap not to be the "Secretary Master" :-)

12:46 pm March 9, 2019

That's a nice way to flip that responsibility back to the team, Olivier, thanks for sharing :-)

Here is one more way to start a conversation with the Development Team about the role of the Scrum Master: Just recently, I became Scrum Master of a Scrum Team which I already knew but had not worked with before. I joined the team at the day of their Sprint Retrospective, and used parts of that event for an exercise called "Build your own Scrum Master" (details here: This exercise is about the Development Team and the Product Owner sharing their expectations of the role of the Scrum Master which is a great opportunity to develop a shared view of the responsibilities of that role. It has also an element that leads the Development Team and Product Owner to reflect about how they can help the Scrum Master to be successful. 

I felt this exercise was important as their former Scrum Master was a "resolver" more than a "revealer". Hence, the Development Team was not used to self-organize. This exercise helped them clarify important misconceptions. As a result, they almost immediately took more ownership of the Daily Scrum, their Sprint Backlog, the Sprint Goal and the increment. Most importantly, they have just delivered a "done" increment the second Sprint in a row. I attribute a lot of this improvement of self-organization to this exercise, so I thought it is worth sharing. 

07:31 am March 12, 2019

Thanks for all the great input!

I believe, if the goal is a self organizing development team, the scrum master should take a step back (when the dev team is mature). 

It is challenging taking over the Scrum master role from a Scrum master who have beeing the "leader" of the daily scrum since years back. You have to be humble and carefully push the dev team towards self organization. There is a risk that the development team and the managers thinks that you have misunderstood the Scrum framework.

12:04 am March 13, 2019

Hi Ronnie, 

With regards to the Daily Scrum, here are some tactics you can use to help the Development Team self-organize more:

  • If you attend their Daily Scrum, remain in the background. 
  • Do not be the one to get the Daily Scrum going.
  • Do not update their visual Sprint Backlog for them.
  • Wait for others to ask questions that you would like to ask.
  • Come late to see if they start without you.
  • After some time, ask how they feel about the way they have their Daily Scrum.

This is a "off the top of my head" list. Others can certainly add to it.

Good luck with your challenge! 

08:37 am March 13, 2019

There is a risk that the development team and the managers thinks that you have misunderstood the Scrum framework.

There is a more probable risk that the Dev Team and the managers misunderstood the framework ;-)

Be open and courageous enough to adapt your own stances.

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