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Need clarifications for some Scrum topics

Last post 05:23 pm July 1, 2021 by Daniel Wilhite
4 replies
05:01 pm June 29, 2021

Hi everyone,

I have a couple of questions I would like your opinion on. 

1. Who organizes the Scrum meetings (ceremonies)?

The Scrum Guide mentions the Scrum Master as the facilitator, but not the organizer for the meetings. For me this leaves an open topic for discussion within the company and the team to see what works best. I personally don't think the Scrum Master MUST setup the meetings. It can be done if it's the best solution for the moment or for the team (e.g. not to distract the team from sprint work, etc). However stating firmly that the Scrum Master is the organizer seems a bit wrong to me.

2. Does "keeping within the timebox" mean not allowing even a minute past the scheduled time?

I totally agree that the meeting should start and end on the scheduled time, but Im sure we all have been in situations when there is a very valid and important conversation going on and we feel we will be overtime. I personally don't think that "cutting" the conversation and leaving the speaker (especially if the speaker is the shy team member and has finally decided to speak about a topic) with half articulated thought is a good idea. I personally ask the team a couple of minutes in advance if everyone is ok to extend for another 3-5 mins, and if everyone agrees, we do so. 

Would really appreciate your thoughts on these topics. Im sure most of us have encountered these problems at some point in our career.

Thanks a lot,


04:24 pm June 30, 2021

1. Scrum has ceremonies, not meetings.  Each of those have different definitions. If you interchange the words it will weaken the original intent.  

The Scrum Team is expected to be self-organizing. I do not see why this should be a company wide decision.  Talk to your team and have them decide how they feel each event would best be handled.  It might be best to have different people own the calendar invitations.  For example in companies where I have worked the Product Owner has owned the actual calendar item for the Sprint Review so that they can ensure that the proper Stakeholders are invited for each one.  The Daily Scrum calendar item is owned by one of the Developers since that event is entirely for them.  

The Scrum framework does not provide process on purpose.  That is left to the Scrum Team to decide.  

2. Again, there is no process in Scrum.  To me "kept within the timebox" means that you help the team retain focus during the event so that it is productive.  If you look at the full statement

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

you will see that combining all of the conditions places the focus of the statement on making the events useful. Don't be dictoral.  As you said sometimes there is a need to go longer.  But the timebox should be a point in time where everyone participating stops and discusses whether there is a need to continue.  If the participants have been diligent about staying on topic there may not be a need for continuation with the entire group.  

04:51 pm June 30, 2021

Who organizes the Scrum meetings (ceremonies)?

Scrum doesn't have meetings or ceremonies, but rather events. There are four of them (five, if you count the Sprint, which is a container for the other events as well as all of the work) - Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective. There's no singular right or wrong answer for who is responsible for organizing each event, but I'd suggest that there is a best choice based on who is the primary actor in each event.

Sprint Planning should be organized collaboratively between the Developers and the Product Owner. The purpose of this event is to examine the Product Backlog (managed by the Product Owner) and create a Sprint Backlog (created and maintained by the Developers). Laying out the value of the Sprint falls onto the Product Owner, determining what can be done is a collaboration and negotiation between the Product Owner and the Developers, and determining how to get the work done is the responsibility of the Developers.

The Daily Scrum is by and for the Developers. They should be ultimately responsible for setting the time, place, and process for conducting the Daily Scrum.

The Sprint Review is an opportunity to inspect the outcomes of the Sprint, primarily the product Increment and progress toward the Product Goal. Although it's collaborative, this event is geared heavily toward the Product Owner, such as getting product feedback and making adjustments to the Product Backlog. The Product Owner should be the primary organizer for this event.

The Sprint Retrospective is about the team reflecting on its ways of working and making improvements. Since the Scrum Master is responsible for helping the team focus on creating valuable increments, removing impediments, and otherwise being an effective team, the Scrum Master should ensure that everything is in place for the Sprint Retrospective to happen successfully.

The Scrum Master can help out in other ways, though. However, if the Scrum Master was responsible for organizing each event, I'd worry that the person in the role would be relegated to a position closer to the team's administrator or calendar-maintainer rather than a coach and facilitator. The Scrum Master should definitely be available to help the team organize and execute each event, but should do so by making sure that the team understands the purpose of each event and is empowered to carry each event out in the best possible way for the team.

Does "keeping within the timebox" mean not allowing even a minute past the scheduled time?

If events are running outside of their timebox, I'd suspect that there are issues that are preventing the team from doing so. For new teams or teams new to Scrum, there may be a learning curve before the team is able to effectively work within the timebox. Also, sometimes experiments on alternative ways of conducting an event may fail and the objectives won't be reached. The most important thing is to achieve the objective of each event and working toward sticking to the timebox is a fine start.

06:23 pm June 30, 2021

Who organizes the Scrum meetings (ceremonies)?

In Scrum, a self-organizing team will collaborate and hold inspect-and-adapt events.

If self-organization and collaboration is too weak, who might need to take action?

Does "keeping within the timebox" mean not allowing even a minute past the scheduled time?

I'd suggest it means helping people to observe time boxing and explaining the likely consequences if they do not.

05:23 pm July 1, 2021

I really wish I could go back and edit my original response.  I was having a senior moment when I said Scrum has ceremonies. @Thomas Owens is correct.   

That is what I get for typing a response here while trying to listen into a quarterly planning meeting for work.  :(

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