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Should the Scrum Master facilitate the Daily Scrum?

Last post 04:22 pm November 25, 2019 by Simon Mayer
7 replies
08:53 am November 24, 2019

The Daily Scrum is an event for the Development team and the Development Team is responsible for conducting it.

However, the as a service to the Development Team, the Scrum Master may facilitate events as requested or needed.

Based on the above, I am a little confused and I am trying to gain more clarity into whether the Daily Scrum should ever be facilitated by the Scrum Master? Perhaps at the early stages when the team is new to Scrum? or does the Scrum Master only ensure that this event happens from Day 1, even for a new team?

10:30 am November 24, 2019

I would say yes a Scrum Master can facilitate it, but I would more likely do this when I felt it was "needed", rather than simply because it is "requested".
If I receive a request to facilitate a Scrum event, I always want to understand why. Sometimes it's better for a self-organizing team to solve things by themselves, rather than have me step in.

When introducing some teams to a Kanban workflow (in combination with Scrum), and to help those teams gain understanding of the flow of items, and how they could influence it, I took a leading role in the Daily Scrum, in order to show them how to use the "walking the board" technique, but I quickly stepped back.

If I see the Daily Scrum starts to become ineffective, or I see areas for improvement, one tool I have is the ability to suggest I facilitate it; but it's not something I would do lightly. I think there are usually better ways to help teams improve.


One interesting thing that is not discussed in the Scrum Guide is what should happen when the Scrum Master is part of the Development Team. I was in that position in the past. The extent of my active facilitation was reserving a room, and often (but not always) being the one to log in to the computer, so we could see our board (on Jira).
But I also facilitated in more subtle ways: when new people joined the team, I deliberately avoided always standing in the same part of the room, avoided certain eye contact, and sometimes deflected conversations to others, all to help the new team member understand that it's a collaboration with the whole team, rather than a status update to me or anyone else.

10:32 am November 24, 2019

Facilitating (in my opinion) has two meanings: making sure the Dev Team CAN conduct a proper Daily Scrum (room is available, technical aids like screens are etc) and making sure the Dev team IS conducting a proper Daily Scrum. The latter is the most important one, where the confusion might arise. Facilitating means: coaching the Dev team WHY we conduct Daily Scrums (the purpose), and making sure they keep on track; so if the Daily becomes a forum for debating, talking about the weekend hishaps etc, try coaching them to keep to the purpose of the event and have other talks outside this event.So giving them guidance.

If the Dev team is mature and self organizing enough that they can do both of these things themselves, there should be no reason for the SM to even be there

12:42 pm November 25, 2019

I am trying to gain more clarity into whether the Daily Scrum should ever be facilitated by the Scrum Master?

Look at it the other way round. You know that the Scrum Master may facilitate events as requested or needed. Why rule facilitation of the Daily Scrum out?

02:05 pm November 25, 2019

+1 on what Ian said

02:19 pm November 25, 2019

My manager likes to say that a teams' efficiency can be tested by removing the Scrum Master and observing the self-organizing dev team. 

If the dev team can operate smoothly without a Scrum Master, the SM has done it's job well. 

For some reason, without a SM, a dev team will start to drift. Whether that's not doing the Stand-up on time, not communicating or coordinating in a sprint, not updating JIRA, not focusing on sprint goal, etc.  

As un-flashy a SM's job can be, it's important that the whole team is there at the stand up. This helps the dev team focus a bit more and holds people accountable. 

SM still can't talk or discuss impediments during that 15 minutes but its good to hear what the dev team is saying and what they are doing that day. 

"Facilitating" can mean a few things but your presence makes a big difference whether it feels like it or not.

03:40 pm November 25, 2019

Look at it the other way round. You know that the Scrum Master may facilitate events as requested or needed. Why rule facilitation of the Daily Scrum out?

@Ian Mitchell, A few thoughts do come into mind like, the Development Team becoming dependent on the Scrum Master, they may not learn to self-organize, also because the Daily Scrum is an event for the Development Team and they are responsible for conducting it.

Not necessarily ruling this event out from a facilitation standpoint, but trying to gain clarity and understand if this event could be an exception to that based on the above points.

Should the Scrum Master facilitate or just ensure that it happens, and allow the Development Team to conduct it?

04:22 pm November 25, 2019

Taken to its extremes:

  • a self-organizing Development Team may resist any effort of a Scrum Master to interfere with the Daily Scrum
  • a Development Team which cannot or does not organize itself to hold a Daily Scrum may be unable to function effectively without the Scrum Master acting as facilitator

Context is important. A good Scrum Master will not only consider what facilitation is required (if any), but will also look for opportunities to help teams grow beyond whatever situation they currently find themselves in.

In either of the extremes I mention above, I see opportunities for the Scrum Team to discuss, and improve.


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