Throughout the Scrum Open Assessments there often appears a question about who must attend to the Daily Scrum event. This is always correctly answered by saying that only the Development Team is required to participate.

Now the Scrum Guide says the following about the Scrum Master role and Product Owner in regard to the Daily Scrum event:

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

Does that mean that the Product Owner must not be present at the Daily Scrum event, or does it merely mean that the Product Owner is allowed to be present but must not participate in the proceedings of the event.

I don't only want to know which is true, but also I would like to know the reasoning behind this. An answer that cites some official source to clarify this would be best.

  • This is a good question, however you should use the Scrum Guide as the defecto rule book for Scrum. Everything else are opinion and practices that may help you along, but should not contravene those core rules. – MrHinsh - Martin Hinshelwood May 2 '16 at 12:17
up vote 14 down vote accepted

Product Owners Are Silent Observers in Daily Stand-Ups

In the quoted description, the word participate has the connotation of "taking an active part." The Product Owner should attend, but should not participate. The daily stand-up is intended as a synchronization and coordination meeting, not a status meeting, and the Product Owner has no active role to play in it.

The Product Owner (PO) is welcome to attend in order to listen and observe, as Scrum processes should always be transparent, but the PO may not interact. Listening as the team plans the day's work serves a number of purposes:

  • It provides an attentive listener with many of the same benefits as a formal status pull without being disruptive.
  • It provides the PO with early feedback about scope, which can be used outside of the standup to negotiate the scope of in-progress user stories, provide input for Backlog Refinement, or act as an "early warning system" that an Early Termination may be required.
  • It provides the PO with a front-row view of the team's day-to-day capacity. This is often helpful in setting expectations during Sprint Planning, and may provide advanced knowledge of what stories should be prioritized next Sprint.
  • It creates shared context, so that any discussions between the Development Team and the Product Owner throughout the Sprint don't have to start from scratch.
  • So far your answer seems to be the only one not contradicting the Scrum Guide. I would prefer an answer that cites some additional official Scrum sources to bring actual clarity. As long as such an answer doesn't exist, I tend to accept your answer. – aef Apr 28 '16 at 21:24
  • This answer is in line with the official Scrum Guide that is owned by Scrum Inc, Scrum.org, and Scrum Alliance. The Scrum Guide as it is not meant to be a strategy guide, but instead merely a quantification of the rules to build good software. Other practices may/must apply... but not contravene... – MrHinsh - Martin Hinshelwood May 2 '16 at 12:01

Yes, you absolutely want your PO at the Daily Scrum.

First off remember that the Scrum Guide is something like 17 pages and only covers the broadest brush strokes.

The product owner is part of the team. They are the direct connection to the business and the person who signs off on stories as done. You absolutely want the PO there so they know what's going on.

The intent of the Scrum Guide is generally agreed to be that only the developers are talking and the PO would hold questions until after the standup. Most agile teachers recommend that the PO only ask brief questions during the standup, to clarify things. If a story is done, the PO is able to follow up with the team member after the Daily Scrum to approve the story, so it can be properly moved to done.

Interestingly enough, Mike Cohn just issued some advice on this in his direct email letters to subscribers. He recommends that everyone, Scrum Master and Product Owner included give updates in the Daily Scrum. It's an evolution of our thinking which recognizes that there is other work, beyond the coding, that happens during a sprint.

And remember, it's all guidance. If it works for you, that's the most important measure of if you should do it.

EDIT: I'm in the process of gaining the Certified Scrum Trainers certification. So I'm explaining this from that perspective. The Scrum Guide is a framework. It is not prescriptive, it is a guideline. It is also an ever evolving concept. The last time it was updated was more than three years ago and Jeff Sutherland, one of the authors, has certainly continued to evolve his opinions.

So if anyone tells you "You're not following Scrum by the book" then they are the ones with the problem. A 17 page document cannot and was not intended to ever be the be all and end all.

Product Owners absolutely should be at the Daily Scrum. Every CST I know teaches that. The exact role of the PO at the Daily Scrum is up to the team to decide based on what they feel works. Remember, inspect and adapt. We don't hold rigidly, we do what works.

So if i was your coach, I'd tell you to start with the "by the book" only the developers talk. Then use your retrospectives to decide if that works.

A couple of other notes: - Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber maintain the Scrum Guide. They are only two voice in the scrum community and not the only ones who were there when it was invented.
- The Agile Manifesto isn't Scrum and it is the over arching guidelines for us all. Inspect and Adapt is a key principle. As is individuals and interactions over process and tool.

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    Some of your answer sounds like "Do whatever fits you". I know that this is always a possibility. But I would like to know what Scrum, and therefore its creators, intended by writing the referenced statements into the Scrum Guide. Apart of that, I'd like to point out that the Scrum Guide is quite strict on what is Scrum and what is not Scrum. It seems to regulate some parts very strictly while a lot of other parts are left for its users to tinker with. I suspect this to be intentional, and therefore I'd like to understand the rules and their intentions to understand why they need to be strict. – aef Apr 21 '16 at 22:14
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    only Development Team members participate in the Daily Scrum cannot be interpreted in any way so that the Product Owner is encouraged to or should participate. Therefore I'd say that Mike Cohn's approach is a direct contradiction to what the Scrum Guide says. – aef Apr 21 '16 at 22:29
  • Edits added instead of using comments. – Joel Bancroft-Connors Apr 21 '16 at 22:43
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    @aef is technically correct. Pure scrum (is there such a thing?) is clear that only developers participate in the daily scrum. Anything else is a deviation from the scrum guide, which may or may not be appropriate in your circumstances. – Pedro Apr 21 '16 at 23:29
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    Can you provide an example of any people that invented Scrum together with Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber recommending to go against what is written in current the Scrum Guide at the time of their expression? I heard plenty of people claiming such disagreement, even for Ken and Jeff, but I did not find any evidence for this. Both scrum.org and Scrum Alliance explicitly adhere to the Scrum Guide. – aef Apr 28 '16 at 21:29

I've obtained my CSM certification a few weeks ago. One of the couple of questions I missed was exactly this.

The question asks the reason why the PO should attend the Daily Scrum (which, by Modus Ponens, implies that the PO should attend the Daily Scrum).

I answered that it was to ensure the Dev team is still on target to meet sprint goals. A listener, as CG says (+1!).

I was surprised to know that the correct answer was to help clarify requirements, which implies that the PO has an active role during Daily Scrum. Go figure.

All in all, you should stick to what Joel BC (+1!) says: do whatever works for you.

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    Being on-hand to clarify requirements is part of a PO's ongoing role, but IMHO the daily standup is the wrong place to be clarifying requirements. I've seen too many Scrum implementations slip into PO status pulls this way to think it's a good idea for them to be active participants, but since the PO is a member of the Scrum team that person should certainly be present at the ceremony. – Todd A. Jacobs Apr 21 '16 at 23:41
  • Since the PO is not actively contributing to delivering work in the sprint they have no need to be at the Daily Scrum. The Daily Scrum is for the Development Team (not the Scrum Team) to sync and then, if they deem necessary, bring any issues to the attention of the rest of the Scrum Team. Daily Scrum is 15 minutes to make sure you don't end up discussing off topic things, like clarifications of requirements. – MrHinsh - Martin Hinshelwood May 2 '16 at 12:09
  • Hi @MrHinsh, I agree he may NOT attend - my post is intended to say that the ScrumAlliance expects the PO to attend Daily Scrums. – Tiago Cardoso May 3 '16 at 12:00
  • That's fine for taking a test, however it is not a good behaviour to encourage. – MrHinsh - Martin Hinshelwood May 4 '16 at 5:11
  • I agree it should be discouraged. My answer does not try to disagree with that. Instead, my answer states that the Scrum Alliance, one of (if not the) most renowned authority in scrum, states otherwise. From now, we have three possible takeouts: 1) Scrum Alliance is wrong and we're right or 2) Scrum Alliance ask a test question that they don't expect us to reflect real world or 3) the question in the exam was just poorly written. – Tiago Cardoso May 7 '16 at 9:19

I think the Scrum Guide sees the daily scrum as being for the development team as this encourages them to synchronise their activities during the sprint. However, there are also elements of synchronisation required between the development team and the Product Owner.

Mike Cohn talks about the Product Owner participating in the daily scrum to highlight that they are just another Scrum Team member.

Personally I would say that having a Product Owner that only occasionally attends a daily scrum is not a good idea. They will continually be behind on current events and so may delay the daily scrum by asking questions that the rest of the development team already knows the answer to.

Similarly, if a Product Owner attends the daily scrum and treats it as an opportunity to check-up on progress then that is also not a productive use of the team's time.

On the other hand, a Product Owner that attends every daily scrum and speaks in a concise and informative manner would be beneficial to the team.

Imagine if a Product Owner has chosen to relocate and is sitting with the development team. Would you then refuse to let them attend the daily scrum or speak at it? I don't think this would send a good message about the Scrum Team working together.

  • Since the PO is not actively contributing to delivering work in the sprint they have no need to be at the Daily Scrum. The Daily Scrum is for the Development Team to sync and then, if they deem necessary, bring any issues to the attention of the PO. – MrHinsh - Martin Hinshelwood May 2 '16 at 12:07
  • That assumes the PO is not actively contributing to delivery. I have worked with Product Owners who are highly engaged with the development team during a sprint. – Barnaby Golden May 2 '16 at 12:31
  • The they are NOT the PO at the Daily Scrum, they are a Team Member. And "highly engaged", while laudable, does not make one a member of the Development Team. Are they actively committing to delivering work within the Sprint? – MrHinsh - Martin Hinshelwood May 4 '16 at 5:15

The Daily Scrum meeting should be finished in 15 mins - max 20 mins. If the Product Owner (PO) joins the Daily Scrum, it damages the Team's autonomy and most of the time the PO might jump in and say "hey don't do this" or "that like this" and then things can turn into long debates.

The PO should not be involved in the Daily Scrum. Let developers do their best based on user stories' descriptions. If there are any blockers, the Scrum Master has to facilitate discussion and can pull the PO into the Daily Scrum if required.

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