What are the most common reasons for a scrum master to attend the daily scrum?
Very often, when I give training courses on scrum, people tell me that attending the daily scrum is the scrum master’s job. They believe that the scrum master is there to ensure that it happens, that it happens correctly, and to be present as part of their role and responsibilities.
It isn’t true.
If that is the reason why you are attending a daily scrum, please stop attending and figure out instead why it could be important for you to be there and how your presence could contribute to helping the team improve.
If you’re turning up for a daily scrum because you think it’s your job, rather than because you are able to contribute value, there honestly is no value in you being present.
Reasons why a scrum master might attend a daily scrum.
As we’ve covered above, simply turning up to a daily scrum because you think it’s a part of your job simply isn’t good enough. There are great reasons for you to attend and we’ll cover those below.
Coaching the scrum team
This doesn’t have anything to do with you, as the scrum master, attending the daily scrum but it does have to do with you coaching the team to a point where THEY recognize the value of a daily scrum, understand how it contributes to great performances, and actively contribute in that daily scrum in a way that leads to continuous improvement.
As a scrum master, it will be your responsibility to teach, mentor, and coach the team throughout the adoption of scrum until they are capable of leading a daily scrum effectively, and have embedded the practice of a daily scrum in their team’s DNA.
So, in the early days as a scrum master, you will be attending daily scrums to observe what is happening, helping the team get the most out of their meeting, and coaching them to improve with each event.
In the early days, a scrum master will actively facilitate the daily scrum with the objective of helping the developers to get the most out of the meeting. They will work on things like:
- Helping the team understand what good conversations look like.
- Helping the team identify what kind of language, interactions, and behaviours are unhelpful.
- Helping the team become more effective at communication during the daily scrum.
- Helping the team stay focused on the most valuable, important items.
- Creating a structure for the daily scrum that best serves the team’s needs.
And so forth.
The team may have zero experience with a daily scrum and so your participation, as the scrum master, is to help teach, mentor, and coach them to great performances. You’ll be invested in facilitation until such time as the developers, themselves, are able to facilitate the daily scrum effectively.
A great scrum master may choose to attend a daily scrum with the objective of identifying patterns of behaviour that are harming the team.
They may observe that certain individuals are consistently failing to perform to agreed standards, and use the daily scrum to observe those patterns, understand the reasons behind those failures, and use what they have learned to design a strategy to remedy the situation.
They may recognise a teaching, mentoring, or coaching opportunity is present and choose to work with individuals, separate from the team, to correct those behaviours or adopt new practices and tools that correct the problem.
A scrum master may also be tracking problems and impediments outside the influence and control of the team, and use the daily scrum as an opportunity to fully understand the problem as well as the impact of that problem, before designing a strategy to tackle the impediment with someone outside of the team environment.
In some circles, people believe that the primary responsibility of a scrum master is to remove impediments, and if that is the case in your organization, it’s a great idea to attend daily scrums with the objective of identifying obstacles and impediments that require your help to solve.
Observe team dynamics
A great scrum master will also be interested in the team dynamics, with an emphasis on the quality of relationships between individuals within the team, and in some cases, the team’s relationships with individuals outside of the team environment.
As a scrum master, your primary responsibility is to help create an environment where the team can excel. How they interact and engage as a team is incredibly important. You will want to keep a finger on the pulse of team dynamics and use the daily scrum to observe patterns or behaviours that are leading indicators for success or potential failure down the line.
Some patterns will present you with the opportunity to teach whilst others will invite coaching opportunities that help both the individual as well as the team to improve.
A scrum master doesn’t have to be at the daily scrum, but it is a great idea for them to be there.
Just ensure that you have a clear purpose behind your presence and that you are using the time to effectively contribute value to the team and the organization.
I’ve given you a few examples of how you can dedicate your time and efforts, but I would encourage you to really think about how you can contribute or extract value from the daily scrum, and to devise a strategy that empowers you to help the team excel.
About John McFadyen
If you are interested in becoming an agile coach and value mentored, coach-driven skills development in your journey to mastery, visit our Growing Scrum Masters page on https://www.growingscrummasters.com/
If you like the idea of becoming a scrum master and want to achieve internationally recognised and certified accreditation as a scrum master, visit our Certified Scrum Master (CSM) course page on https://www.agilecentre.com/courses/scrum-master/certified-scrummaster/.
If you are already a scrum master and want to upskill to a more advanced level of knowledge and agile coaching capability, visit our Advanced Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM) course page on https://www.agilecentre.com/courses/scrum-master/advanced-certified-scrummaster/.
If you have several years’ experience as a scrum master and want to validate and certify your professional skills, visit our Certified Scrum Professional Scrum Master (CSP-SM) course page on https://www.agilecentre.com/courses/scrum-master/certified-scrum-professional-scrum-master/
For more information on John McFadyen, connect with John on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnmcfadyen/.
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