Daily meetings with the CEO

Last post 03:39 am September 9, 2019
by Tom Baldwin
10 replies
07:07 pm September 5, 2019


I´m not a native english speaker, Sorry for my bad grammar :D. I´m currently working as Scrum Master for a company, currently we have two teams and two scrum masters we have been working fine with the organization CEO throught our Product Owner until now: Our CEO is asking for "15-minutes Daily meetings". Today one of the team have that meeting with the CEO and it lasted 1 hour. The CEO wants to be aware of the work that the team is doing to "Help to involve people outside the scrum team so they can help the scrum team". Both Scrum Master already talked with the CEO about the problems that this meeting will cause to the way the scrum auto-organize and performs but he insist.

I will really apreciate your advices about what can we as Scrum Masters do to resolve this issue.


08:19 pm September 5, 2019

Today one of the team have that meeting with the CEO and it lasted 1 hour.

If it isn’t either you or the other Scrum Master who is working with the CEO to improve organizational agility, why not?

08:47 pm September 5, 2019

I'd explain that the job of a SM is to remove impediments, so as the team identifies certain needs that are not fulfilled by the team; the SM will let him and others know. There is no need to involve this many people into a meeting. Remind him that the meeting like that is incredibly expensive and would provide more value to the company by allowing the devs do what they do best; develop software. If he insists on having a daily meeting, the SM and PO can stand in but the rest of the team is not needed.

11:18 pm September 5, 2019

If the CEO wants to be aware of what the Scrum Teams are doing, there are ample opportunities for that as part of the Scrum framework already.

Every day, the Development Team holds a Daily Scrum. Although people outside the Development Team don't participate, observers are allowed. It often falls to the Scrum Master to ensure that the observers do not disrupt the Development Team's activities. This event is timeboxed to 15 minutes. In my experiences, I tend to allow the observers to participate if the Development Team feels that they have adequately planned and there is time in the timebox remaining, but I do tend to enforce the timebox for the room (primarily because other teams may be using it afterwards). The time immediately following the Daily Scrum is the perfect opportunity for individuals or small groups to continue discussions or have more in-depth discussions.

The Sprint Review has a number of relevant elements, and key external stakeholders are invited to participate in this event. The Product Owner shares the Product Backlog Items that were done and the Product Backlog Items that were not done. The Development Team can also share problems and how they were overcome. The outcome of Sprint Review is useful for subsequent Sprint Planning activities.

Generally speaking, transparency is a key aspect of Scrum. The current state of the Product Backlog along with the team's Sprint Backlog should be visible to the appropriate stakeholders. The Development Team should be able to keep their Sprint Backlog up-to-date for stakeholders and this becomes an information radiator. The Product Owner is also maintaining the Product Backlog as an information radiator.

I'd also point out that the Scrum Master has services to the organization - leading and coaching adoption of Scrum, helping stakeholders understand and practice Scrum, and increase the productivity of the Scrum Teams. It seems like this is a good opportunity to get a good understanding of what the CEO's objectives are and then provide information and education about how to achieve those objectives within the context of Scrum. I would suspect that most of the objectives can fit nicely into existing Scrum values, principles, and events. Others may require a shift in thinking and adjustments to a lean and agile mindset. As a Scrum Master, this falls to you and your colleagues.

02:39 am September 6, 2019

Make the CEO part of the Dev. Team  :D    I think there's a lack of trust somewhere.

04:12 am September 6, 2019

We had similar issues with our delivery manager who was too much into micromanagement. The meeting was not productive for any of the participants too. What we suggested was :

If 10 people are attending 30 minutes call then we are wasting 30 minutes * 10 = 300 minutes (approx 5 hours) of total development effort. Keep multiplying it for weeks and months and our deliver manager got the point. 

11:18 am September 6, 2019

Hello Enrique,

I have a few questions.

Does the CEO attend Sprint Reviews?

Do a healthy number of interested Stakeholders attend Sprint Reviews?

Is the Sprint Backlog visible to all Stakeholders?

Is the Product Backlog visible to all Stakeholders?

What's worked well with us is ensuring the answer to these questions is yes.

What's also worked well is making stakeholders, who are subject matter experts, the champions of features to help define features, acceptance test features and most importantly be available during the sprint for the Development Team to talk to. This helps limit meetings or conversations during the Sprint to those that achieve the Sprint Goal or define the next features to be developed (backlog grooming).


12:01 pm September 6, 2019

Perhaps this CEO genuinely wants to be of help to the team but doesn't see the impact that these meetings are actually having. 

If he's open to coaching and feedback the teams may be able to find a way to allow him to serve the team without being a hindrance. Having the CEO sponsoring your initiatives in the proper way can be a great benefit. 

02:22 pm September 6, 2019

Thanks Ian. The problem in this case is that the CEO wants all the team to be involved in the meeting, not only the PM and/or the SM. Both SM are already working with the organization in improving the implementation of Scrum, the meeting that the CEO is asking for is oriented to check the daily work that the team is doing.

Thanks for the response Curtis. We already talked with the CEO and told him exactly what you just said, but for now he is asking for all the team to be there.

Simon the answer for all your questions is yes. We are trying to work with the CEO to make turn this meetings into something that add value to our products or scrum proccess. As Martin said my worry is that this meetings could be a singal of lack of trust and the objetive could become keep the team´s work under control or impose the "You must do it in this way".

03:46 pm September 6, 2019

Our CEO is asking for "15-minutes Daily meetings". 

What you just described is the Daily Scrum.  I would suggest talking to the CEO about attending the Daily Scrum as an observer as @Thomas Owens referenced.  As Scrum Master talk to the Scrum Team about his attendance so that they are not caught off-guard.  If they have already attended his version of the meetings, they should understand what you are attempting to do. I would stand beside him for the entire event. Before the event starts each time, politely remind him that he should hold his questions until after the Development Team says that they are done with their planning. After the Development Team states that the Daily Scrum is over, turn to the CEO and ask if he needs any clarifications on what was discussed.  Facilitate the discussion to be on task, on point and only as long as needed.   After a few days of this it should become less intense.  While all of this is going on, the Scrum Master and Product Owner should pay close attention to the types of questions the CEO is asking.  Then the two of them can start to predict his questions and provide him the information either prior to or immediately following the Daily Scrum.  If he starts to see that the Scrum Master and Product Owner are able to answer his questions, he will most likely stop seeing a need to have the entire team involved and will start to work directly with the Scrum Master and Product Owner.

The CEO wants to be aware of the work that the team is doing to "Help to involve people outside the scrum team so they can help the scrum team". 

Has anyone asked him for examples of when the Scrum Team has not been successful with this and why he feels he needs to be involved at such a low level of work in the organization? Having been in similar situations it sounds to me that while the CEO might understand the concepts of agile and Scrum, they are having difficulty realizing how it benefits him. He may have some concerns about the decisions being made and isn't quite ready to let go of that activity.  

02:27 pm September 8, 2019

Hi Enrique,

Just to remind you what the Scrum Guide says in the "SM services to the Organisation" section: it seems like the CEO needs your help to understand "which the interactions are helpful and which are not."

This is often easier said than done - so good luck in showing some emotional intelligence ("EQ")! ;)

If the CEO wants to make a change to the Backlog Items' priorities, then he should go through the Product Owner; if he wants to make changes to Scrum's processes, then he should go through you.

Agile is about "pull" not "push"