How to facilitate multiple Scrum ceremonies

Last post 05:55 pm May 30, 2021
by Chuck Suscheck
7 replies
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01:50 pm May 27, 2021

I am a Scrum master who is looking after 4 scrum teams.  Now, the problem which I am facing is during scrum ceremonies.  The 4 scrum meetings are having different product backlogs & as a Scrum master I have to attend all the 4 Scrum meetings (which cant be avoided & scrum ceremonies i.e. Sprint planning, Retrospective & Demo) are being planned on the same day & same time by different Stakeholders.  What is the best technique to follow in this type of situation

I have another question which is related to technology.  Now, I was contacted by another stakeholder who wants our company to work on his assignment too.  But the technology is not the same which we are working in our currently scrum of scrums (as mentioned above 4 scrum teams).  Now, how should I handle this situation (how to convince the stakeholder about the technological part, because, his assignment is new one & also he is giving business to our company)

02:54 pm May 27, 2021

...I have to attend all the 4 Scrum meetings...

First, there are no meetings in Scrum.  Scrum describes 4 events where each have a specific purpose.  A Scrum Master is responsible for educating their teams on the purpose of the event and how to use the information for the inspection/adaptation needed. 

If your teams do understand the reasons for the events, why do you have to attend all four of them?  Can't the teams achieve the intended results without you being physically present?  How much are you actively participating in the events?  As a Scrum Master, I always strived to be unneeded because it shows that I am fulfilling my responsibility to educate.  I would routinely miss events. In fact, I would tell the teams that I would be missing some of the events and not tell them when I would.  Or I'd show up for a portion of an event.  Teams are expected to be self-organizing, self-managing.  To me that means that no single member is so important that the team can't function without them. 

Now, I was contacted by another stakeholder who wants our company to work on his assignment too.

Why were you, as a Scrum Master, contacted and not the Product Owner?  Is the assignment even related to the products that any your team supports?   

also he is giving business to our company

This makes me think that your company does project work for many clients and does not have products that they market.  If that is the case, again I ask why you, as Scrum Master, is the one being approached and not someone in Product Management or even Sales?  I would refer him to the appropriate people and let them make the determination of how to handle the new business request.  A Scrum Master does not approve projects or product ideas.  They focus on how well a team functions as a team in order to deliver value.  

03:02 pm May 27, 2021

On the 1st question

Option 1: Bring it to the team(s). discus during retrospective if your absence during the event is a problem and how they think it can be solve.

Option 2: Bring it to the people planning the events and see if it can be planned so that you can attent all events

On the second question some questions:

Is the work on the same product as the 4 scrum teams work on?

What is the opinion of the product owner(s)?

 

05:37 pm May 27, 2021

scrum ceremonies i.e. Sprint planning, Retrospective & Demo) are being planned on the same day & same time by different Stakeholders

Why on earth are stakeholders planning these things? The Scrum Team should manage their own Scrum Events, including such matters as timing and making sure that a Sprint Review does not degenerate into a ceremonial "demo".

10:24 am May 28, 2021

Thank you all for your responses. 

For some points of yours, I will try to answer them, hope it gives a better clarity about my question

Hi Ian,

Why on earth are stakeholders planning these things?

Actually, stakeholders are being invited to these meetings to show the progress (Sprint demos) and also to gain confidence that what we are doing is in concurrence of what they are measuring in business value.  So 99% of time, since they at onshore & due to time differences, most of the onshore stakeholders prefer the time which is at beginning of their day.  If for all the 4 scrum teams, the time is getting conflicted.  Hope I am clear on that.

 

Hi Sven,

Is the work on the same product as the 4 scrum teams work on?

Yes, it is on same product, but for different features. 

What is the opinion of the product owner(s)?

Well, Product Owner represents client / business, so he also said that "We as a company should provide whatever business require".  Here the question was, when the stakeholder is ready to give us some work which is on different technology, in that case how can we buy some time or convince the stakeholder to give us some time for ramp up.

Hi Daniel,

If your teams do understand the reasons for the events, why do you have to attend all four of them? 

Unfortunately, that is ask of stakeholders.  Because, they keep iterating that whatever the feedback which was shared either in Retro or Demo is not implemented in the other iterations.  So, they want Scrum  Master to be present wherein he can keep tab on those recommendations

How much are you actively participating in the events?

I am an active observer in those events who will be attending all the events, take notes & share with the team after the events.  But the problem started creeping when I have to attend the events for all the 4 scrum teams.  I 100% agree with what you said that team should be "self-organizing".  But, unfortunately, the senior management in our company says, that I should be there to "govern". 

 

 

03:03 pm May 28, 2021

Unfortunately, that is ask of stakeholders.  Because, they keep iterating that whatever the feedback which was shared either in Retro or Demo is not implemented in the other iterations.  So, they want Scrum  Master to be present wherein he can keep tab on those recommendations

That is not a job that the Scrum Master is responsible for doing. If the feedback is for the product, the Product Owner is responsible for getting that captured in the Product Backlog and then ordering it appropriately.  And the Sprint Retrospective The Scrum Master does not "keep tab".  This is an opportunity to educate the stakeholders on the Scrum framework and help them understand how their interactions with the Scrum Team can be most effective.

I am an active observer in those events who will be attending all the events, take notes & share with the team after the events. 

Why can't someone else takes notes?  To elaborate:

  • Sprint Planning is for the purpose of building the Sprint Backlog from Product Backlog items.  Anything that is note worthy would be related to the items being taken into the Sprint Backlog.  Where better place to place those notes than in the item for which it applies?  This can be done by anyone.  My teams typically rotate that responsibility through the team of Developers as the notes apply to them more than anyone else.
  • The Daily Scrum is for the Developers and you are not required to be there unless you are acting as a Developer.  If notes need to be taken, then they should take them.  But I would question why notes need to be taken in the Daily Scrum.
  • Sprint Review is to gain feedback from the stakeholders so that the Product Backlog can be updated.  Any "notes" that need to be taken should be reflected in the Product Backlog, not as a separate document.
  • Sprint Retrospective is for the entire team to discuss how to improve their ability to work together as a team and deliver value.  Anyone can take notes if needed.  You are an active participant in this meeting so why should you always be the one that has to split their attention?  My teams typically rotate the person that takes notes through the entire Scrum Team.

A Scrum Master is not the team's scribe or historian. Before you say that you are expected to facilitate meetings let me share the exact statement from the current Scrum Guide

Ensuring that all Scrum events take place and are positive, productive, and kept within the timebox.

That statement is listed in the Scrum Master's responsibility to the Scrum Team.  There are many ways that you can do that without having to attend every event and take notes. Since your organization is advocating that you work with 4 teams you might want to raise this to your manager and ask how they suggest you handle it. 

05:54 pm May 28, 2021

Actually, stakeholders are being invited to these meetings to show the progress (Sprint demos) and also to gain confidence that what we are doing is in concurrence of what they are measuring in business value. 

Does a Sprint Review ever happen, to which those stakeholders are invited? Bear in mind that a Sprint Review is not a demo, but a collaborative working session, the key output of which is a revised Product Backlog.

05:55 pm May 30, 2021

You are, as I'm sure you know, less effective when you are scrum master on 4 teams.  It seems to me your company is really concerned about utilization rather than effectiveness.  So be careful on this front.

Ultimately, I'd be posting this kind of problem to the scrum teams and getting their input or corrective actions during a retrospective. 

You may be inviting too many stakeholders too - only invite those that are going to help steer the product backlog, not those hoping for an education.  You can have the product owners educate them separately without the whole scrum team.

Part 2 about technology:  is your company optimizing for a particular skill set?  It's better to have cross-functionality, which it sounds like you don't at this time.  That's something to grow toward.  For now though, you will be less productive until the team learns the technology - which is something the product owner should think about.