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A Healthy Daily Scrum

How to Institute Healthy Attitudes Toward the Daily Stand-up Meeting

23 April 2014

During the transition of a company from the traditional method to Scrum, we faced a lot of problems in changing the culture and mind-set of the development team, due to their long-term dependence on command and control as used in the traditional way.

The symptoms of this problem were clear in their attitude during meetings. At the beginning of the Daily Scrum, no one on the team would speak -- everyone was waiting for the ScrumMaster to ask them the three questions! Even after they understood that no one would ask them every time, and these were meetings for peers on team to discuss and be committed toward each other -- not status reports for the ScrumMaster -- they would start to speak but still always look toward the ScrumMaster, not toward their peers.

We then tried a new way of arranging the Daily Scrum: We actually excluded the ScrumMaster and product owner from these meetings for a short period, to give the team the confidence to be self-organized and begin discussing their commitments without any influences.

In such a case, how can the ScrumMaster check that they are managing the Daily Scrum in the right way? Actually, we found a way, which was to record the Daily Scrum meeting. Afterward the ScrumMaster played it and informed the team of any of his concerns, which they could discuss and handle in their next meeting.

We continued with this scenario for about a week. After that the ScrumMaster and the product owner began to attend the daily meetings again -- but by then the team was confident enough and had become self-organized enough to conduct a healthy Daily Scrum.

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

Article Rating

Current rating: 3.8 (4 ratings)


Tim Baffa, CSM, 4/23/2014 3:37:06 PM
The solution offered, to have the team meet without the SM and PO present, fits with the goal of the daily stand-up, but is a rather extreme approach to fixing daily stand-up issues.

Stand-ups are definitely for the team to disseminate information to each other. The SM needs to be present only to ensure that scrum is being followed, and the team is communicating and improving.

One strategy I have used in the past when team members have looked to me to facilitate discussion is to simply not speak. A few minutes of awkward silence is highly prefereble to continuing a practice where the team looks to the SM as an authority figure.

Along those lines, the SM should continue observing the daily stand-up (never leaving the team to do it themselves, as suggested), until the team has achieved "Ri", mastering the stand-up, and beginning to form their own form of it that still follows scrum principles.
Sherif El-Rabbat, CSP,CSM,CSPO,REP, 4/23/2014 5:08:40 PM
The role of SM is definitely known for each party, but the moving from command and control methodology to self-organization was a challenge for all scrum team (PO, SM, and Team)not only the team. So we was in need to give the team the confident to be self organized, and also train the SM that his role is only facilitation.
Jai Singhal, CSP,CSM,CSPO, 4/30/2014 10:19:45 AM
Interesting solution that removes the hidden-gun effect. You have addressed an interesting aspect as how the team was uncomfortable and removing the Scrum Master and the Product Owner enabled the Team to gain confidence.

I guess extreme conditions warrant extreme solutions. Kudos on getting the Team to open up and get regular Daily Scrums in action. It is essential for the team to be committed to the Sprint goal, self-organizing, motivated and driven.
Rajmahendra Hegde, CSM,CSPO, 5/8/2014 8:05:10 AM
Its a good idea to encourage the team to speakup but I feel this will create the distance from SM and Team. It make Team to do same for other rituals.
Jocelyn Davies, CSM, 5/14/2014 11:32:30 AM
Great suggestion on having the team record the session and the scrum master review.

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