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We have a professional Scrum Master consultant [*] who recently joined our project. Unfortunately, we don't know her name (she never introduced herself to us, she just came in one day and said "we are having a daily stand-up"), and she doesn't seem to do much else except chair a daily stand up meeting - when I half-jokingly asked her to also give daily feedback in the meeting, she was quite affronted, saying it's the Scrum Master's job to "facilitate, not participate".

This seems fairly anti-Agile (having worked on other agile projects, where the teams were self directed), which is supposed to be egalitarian, but I am not sure about how it works in the Scrum Methodology. I suspect she doesn't do much all day, and that's the reason for her defensiveness on this issue.

Does the Scrum Master take part in the "yesterday, today, impediments" spiel during the stand-up meeting, or is their role to just chair ("facilitate") the meeting?

[*] We weren't actually told what her job is, we just assume, since she calls herself the Scrum Master

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    If the team does everything correctly and needs no feedback (since the scrum-master can stand aside and watch how you self-organize), I think you don't need her any more. – superM Nov 19 '13 at 10:44
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    Not introducing herself to the team seems very strange, whatever methodology you are following. – Doc Brown Nov 19 '13 at 10:44
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    This is a joke right ? You have a daily meeting with someone and you haven't asked her name ? I know that scrums can be rough, but the common courtesies of life still apply. – High Performance Mark Nov 19 '13 at 10:47
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    We could find out her name, but it's more fun enjoying the Dilbert-esque absurdity of the situation at the BigCo we are contracted to. Since she doesn't do much, it doesn't really matter. – user109170 Nov 19 '13 at 10:50
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    A SM can participate, by asking critical questions such as "is it normal that that story has been hanging around in the test column for the past 2 days?", or by suggesting improvements to the overal development process workflow. Putting that aside, a SM is someone who is generally very invested in the human aspect of software development. If someone like that just walks in without introducing herself... Maybe it's time to start questioning what value she brings to the team, because it all sounds kind of fishy to me. – Stefan Billiet Nov 19 '13 at 12:34
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Ideally, the scrum master is responsible for facilitating the project activities and to address any sort of impediments faced during that. He/she does not participate in the "yesterday, today, impediments" spiel during the daily stand-up per se, however, is answerable to the team members for any kind of status on the impediments they have reported during the earlier stand-ups.

I have worked with 5 scrum teams with a reputed organization, all of them followed the same practice.

To get a detailed picture of all the responsibilities of a scrum master, I recommend you have a look at this http://www.scrummasterchecklist.org/pdf/ScrumMaster_Checklist_12_unbranded.pdf

1

I've been an SM for many years, I defer to the team in this. If they would like me to participate then I do that as well as facilitate.

The idea is to be one of a 'servant leader'.

The team should have the ability to "hire/fire" the SM, not have them sweep in, demand a stand up without introducing themselves.

  • is that only your personal opinion or some sort of established practice? if the latter, please provide references for that – gnat Nov 25 '13 at 14:37
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    The way I see it, SM is part of the team, and the team is self organizing. Up to the team to declare during a retrospective that their SM isn't productive or working the way the team wants him to work, at which point a good SM should either adjust his behavior or remove the impediment by replacing himself... – ptyx Dec 6 '13 at 6:42
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In stand-ups, she should give status on impediments and then in retrospectives she should give her opinion on how stand-ups could be made more meaningful or efficient.

If one expects SM to give status of her daily activities then IMHO one has wrong expectations. Purpose of status is so that team can align their activities and i don't know why a team member would want to know what she (SM) was doing yesterday to plan today. At least one book even suggest that SM are not even required to be in stand-ups on daily basis.

  • If the scrum master is not always in scrum, how will they learn about the teams impediments? – Andy Mar 1 '14 at 0:44
  • The book i mentioned was about a tool i.e. TFS.. so i am assuming in that context they were expecting that anyone facing any impediment will just log an issue/impediment in the tool and assign it to ScrumMaster.. if team is collocated then they can use white board to list down impediment.. Having said that I feel there are times when SM has to be in each and every meeting.. – Asim Ghaffar Mar 1 '14 at 8:16
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The Scrum Master does not necessarily participate the Daily Scrum meeting according to offical Scrum framework.

A few quotes from Scrumguides.org:

  • "The Scrum Master enforces the rule that only Development Team members participate in the Daily Scrum."

  • "The Scrum Master ensures that the Development Team has the meeting, but the Development Team is responsible for conducting the Daily Scrum."

  • "During the meeting, the Development Team members explain [...]"

  • The Scrum Master's job is "facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed"

(Nevertheless, IMHO it increases transparency if the Scrum Master joins the "yesterday, today, impediments" procedure. Also IMHO a perfect Product Owner can optionally also participate and answer the three sentences inside a Daily Scrum. But this is against official Scrum.)

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I have 3 Scrum Teams in my position as Scrum Master and we use an electronic Taskboard in our agile practice. All my teams, with the exception of one, provides their status on all tasks they're working on, moving from one person to the next, in the typical standup process. The exception team decided they wanted to do their standup going story by story and has now asked that I lead this by being the one to drive the meeting.

Is there any justification for a Scrum Master to take this role on during standup? I can understand if the team has more than 7 resources, but it seems as if it's a babysitting role designed to make everyone pay attention instead of the team being responsible adults because they don't want to take the trouble themselves to self-organize.

One of the members of this team is also doing work for one of the other teams and has mentioned in the sprint retro how much faster the meeting goes when each person steps up and takes the lead for themselves on the board. It didn't make any difference to the team and the PO has pushed the team to stand their ground on the story-by-story method.

  • Part of the purpose of scrum is to hold the team accountable to the work they've committed to. – Andy Mar 1 '14 at 0:47
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Your company started wrong. The scrum master should be part of the team.

By hiring a full time scrum master, all you did is add another layer between the team and management/stake holders. Totally not Agile.

One person from the team, normally the manager, who is also part of the team, takes the role of scrum master. But it really is not a 'title'. it is a role that anyone can fill as needed. In one team we used to rotate it every month.

Now, this answers all the questions. The SM being part of the team, he takes part in all the team does. easy.

being a SM is just a menial job of following up things externally to the team. So the SM usually takes a little less work because he will be the one being interrupted all the time by external communication and sending emails like "any updates on this ask?". nothing more.

Snake oil salesman that saw the opportunity of selling themselves as full time scrum masters are the scum of the earth and goes completely against Agile, as you noted.

  • The scrim master is part of the team, but its actually recommended they dont do development work. Their full time job is facilitating the various agile ceremonies and removing impediments. – Andy Mar 1 '14 at 0:45
  • there is two cases here: someone really needs a full time job to do that, then your org has other problems. or he is being scrum master for several teams (more common) so he is also not invested in the team and should not be part of the "pigs". – gcb Mar 1 '14 at 0:59
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    I think that's a false dichotomy you're setting up. Some impediments just might take a while to resolve, such as working with a third party to figure out why you can't access their APIs. – Andy Mar 1 '14 at 1:14
  • that is valid if your company has enough road blocks for someone to try to unblock the team 24/7. – gcb Aug 26 '15 at 7:33
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    A scrum master doesn't just remove impediments. They help the team be as effective as possible, where removing impediments is one part of that. Other parts include running retros/planning meetings, capturing results and metrics and trying to improve processes; team building exercises; facilitating training and personal growth (often lobbying the org for such 'freedoms'); much more. – Sebastian Carroll Jan 24 '17 at 11:31
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Scrum Master do not give their status update, but they are there to facilitate the stand up meeting. Their role is to make sure meeting starts on time, everyone in the meeting gives their status updates within their time frame, take action when any team-member has roadblocks in completing their task.

FYI, we are using our daily stand up meeting online at http://www.standup.report which also allows our offshore team to participate and facilitate the meeting process by adding/modifying team-member's submitted tasks online.

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    Please disclose if you have any affiliation with standup.report per our site guidelines. This post may be mistaken for spam. – maple_shaft Aug 26 '15 at 12:09

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