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During the daily scrum, what exactly is the scrum master’s role?

During the daily scrum, what exactly is the scrum master’s role?

Welcome to our scrum master interview questions series where John McFadyen answers common questions asked of scrum masters during interviews and client engagements.

In my opinion, this is a good interview question.

It allows the interviewer to explore what kind of relationship the scrum master has with a team and what their understanding of the scrum master role is in the context of product development in a complex environment.

For me, the role of a scrum master in a daily scrum is only to ensure that it happens.

A good scrum master will educate the team about the importance of scrum events and get them to a place where they recognize and understand the need to meet daily to synchronize their efforts, explore any potential impediments, and organize themselves around value creation.

The scrum master will help the team identify and articulate the following questions.

  • Are we working together effectively?
  • Are we working on the most valuable work?
  • Are we solving the most compelling problem?
  • Are there any potential impediments that could endanger the sprint goal?
  • Does anyone need assistance from within the team to overcome a challenge?
  • Does anyone need assistance from outside the team to overcome a challenge?
  • Do we need to make any changes to how we work?

And so forth.

If the scrum master has done their job effectively, they don’t technically have a role within a daily scrum. The daily scrum is intended for the developers, and it is up to them to lead and facilitate the daily scrum effectively.

A scrum master can be present in a daily scrum and they may want to listen in on how effectively the team are conducting the daily scrum, listening for any potential problems that they can help solve, or simply ensuring that they are up to date with where the team are headed and how effectively they are working through the sprint backlog.

They could be attempting to identify patterns and behaviors that may prove problematic or prevent the team from improving.

  • A specific developer that consistently fails to deliver on their commitments.
  • A deterioration of working relationships within the team environment.
  • A consistent inability for a stakeholder or senior manager to remove impediments.
  • Systemic issues that present repeating impediments for the team.

And so forth.

The scrum master is not present to facilitate the daily scrum nor would they have anything to contribute to the daily scrum, but there is a lot that they can learn from observing the team in action and identifying opportunities for improvement.

The only time a scrum master would play an active role in a daily scrum is if they were a developer and were actively talking about their work, as a developer, and any potential issues they were experiencing in getting the work out the door.

The daily scrum exists to help the developers figure out how they are going to achieve their sprint goal and deliver all of the items in their sprint backlog.

It isn’t a time to review what has been built nor is it a space for prolonged conversations about the work. The sprint review, sprint retrospective, and alternative independent meetings would be the place for that.

So, in closing, a scrum master doesn’t play a specific role in the daily scrum but their presence, observation, and the insights they extract from those meetings could be incredibly valuable.

About John McFadyen

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