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The Daily Standup/Scrum is not for the Scrum Master

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Mike Cohn suggests that the Daily Scrum (or standup) is not just for the Scrum Master. Instead of a “status meeting” for the manager, it should be seen as a forum where team members are synchronizing their work.

I prefer to think of the daily scrum as a synchronization meeting. Team members are synchronizing their work: Here’s what I did yesterday and what I think I’ll do today. How about you? Done well a daily scrum (daily standup) meeting will feel energizing. People will leave the meeting enthused about the progress they heard others make.

Shane Hastie agrees with a similar view and feels that a manager gets to hear the status as a coincidental benefit of the daily standup.

The primary purpose of the daily standup is for the team members to communicate with each other about their progress against the tasks they are working on. A coincidental benefit is that a leader or manager gets to hear about what’s going on. The meeting is for the team NOT for the manager!

Reporting to the Leader is seen as an anti pattern to the way a daily standup meeting is run.

Team members are facing and talking to the manager or meeting facilitator instead of to the team. This indicates that the daily stand-up is for the manager/facilitator when it is actually supposed to be for the team.

Both Mike Cohn and Jason Yip suggest breaking eye contact as an effective and subtle technique to remind the speaker to address the team during the standup.

As Mike explains

Scrum teams do look at their Scrum Masters a bit like managers to whom they need to report status. By not making eye contact with someone giving an update, the Scrum Master can, in a subtle way, prevent each report becoming a one-way status report to the Scrum Master.

Aaron Sanders suggests a more radical experiment by asking Scrum Masters to skip a few daily standups to encourage the teams to self organize themselves.

What if the Scrum Masters for each team just did not show up? There would be no time to plan what to do. How would the teams organize? I’ve really been trying to impress on the teams to begin the meeting when scheduled, regardless of who is in the room. Would they think of this, and the fact that everyone is a Scrum Master, and get it going?

In the comments of Mike Cohn’s blog he also encourages Scrum Masters to also provide brief updates on their work.

I coach Scrum Masters to give (brief) updates on what they did. For example, if a Scrum Master never reports on removing impediments he’s told about, other team members may never mention them. They’ll think, “Why mention my impediment? I’ve never heard our Scrum Master say he’s resolved anyone else’s?”

Do you see team members often reporting to the leader in your daily standup? What techniques have you used to break out of this anti pattern?

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