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We are a small team using Daily Scrum meetings to track progress of our mobile app development work. The developers are of varying experience range from 2+ years up to 9 years, and with different technical backgrounds like Android, Java, API Development etc.

As per Agile/Scrum recommendations, the Daily Scrum meetings should be completed in 15-min. Although we as a team are aware of this, and also the Team is aware that they should tell only 3 things during daily scrum

1. what I did Yesterday, 2. what i will do today and 3. tell impediments if any,

but since the team is still new to Scrum, while telling their daily status, some of the team members also discuss/tell about

1. how they fixed an issue, 2. how they found new requirement adds more value to business etc.

This results in the Daily Scrum meeting going beyond 15-min. almost daily.

My Query: Is it the responsibility of the Scrum master to intervene and interrupt a team member when he/she starts telling about points beyond those 3 that I mentioned? Is this OK as per Agile?

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Is it the responsibility of the Scrum master to intervene and interrupt a team member when he/she starts telling about points beyond those 3 that I mentioned?

Technically speaking, no. The purpose of the Daily Scrum is to facilitate coordination between the the Team. It's not for the Team to call off those three points by rote. Many Teams don't use the 'three questions' at all, and instead take some other approach.

That being said, the Daily Scrum is supposed to take only 5-15 minutes. While deviating from the three questions itself is fine, if the Team starts to go into in-depth discussions on details, then it is absolutely the Scrum Master's prerogative to politely request for them to 'Take it offline' or 'Discuss this after the meeting'. This is especially true if not all members of the Team are involved in the meeting - there is very little that kills attention worse than being in a meeting with other people discussing things that do not pertain to you.

Of course, as with basically all things in Agile, perhaps your best approach would be... ask the Team. Since you're doing Scrum, you have a sprintly Retrospective meeting. (And if you don't, consider starting to do so.) Bring it up. "I feel like our Daily Scrum is too long. There are too many in-depth discussions, causing people to lose focus and energy. What do you guys think? Anyone have any suggestions?"

Maybe it works for your Team. Maybe your Team also thinks it's a problem, but has their own suggested solution for it (which may end up being far better a solution than you or I could suggest). Maybe your Team hasn't really thought about it, at which point you can suggest having in-depth discussions taken Offline, as above.

Only way to know is to ask.

  • yes i tend to agree with all you said! i was looking for formal confirmation, if any, as per Agile documentation/recommendation, regarding the scope of scrum-master to intervene in such situation! thanks – AADProjectManagement Jan 20 '17 at 15:09
  • @AADTechnical The only 'official' documentation for Scrum is the Scrum Guide: scrumguides.org/docs/scrumguide/v1/scrum-guide-us.pdf For Agile, I believe the only official documentation is the Agile Manifesto, but I could be wrong on that one. – Sarov Jan 20 '17 at 15:10
  • Sorry but I tend to disagree with the answer NO specifically in the given situation. As the op says the team is being fairly new, with a vast difference in their experience, to me which is causing the gap here. I will explain my reasoning in below. – Anup Shah Jan 23 '17 at 18:44
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"Development Team is responsible for conducting the Daily Scrum. The Scrum Master teaches the Development Team to keep the Daily Scrum within the 15-minute time-box." - Scrum Guide

I think it's everyone's responsibility to make sure the Daily Scrum stays focused on coordinating people's work. As Scrum master, it's especially your responsibility, since you're coaching the team.

Interrupt, and suggest that interested people stay after the scrum to have that tangent conversation.

  • as I said in my question itself that team is aware of 15-min time box...but when the daily meeting is happening and overshooting, who should jump-in and say "hey, we are crossing that 15-min. here, and can you please limit your status telling to 3-agreed points"? can that person be scrum-master? this is what i am asking – AADProjectManagement Jan 20 '17 at 14:40
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    @AADTechnical The Scrum Master is coaching the team. So, yes, this is exactly their job. – Nathan Cooper Jan 20 '17 at 14:42
  • ok, do you have any supporting documents for your answer from any Agile/scrum books/documents so that it can be added as a link in your answer for everyone's benefit? – AADProjectManagement Jan 20 '17 at 14:49
  • @AADTechnical The quote at the top of this answer is from the scrum guide. I'll add a link. – Nathan Cooper Jan 20 '17 at 14:52
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Scrum Master as Coach & Process Referee: Teachable Moments

Is it the responsibility of the Scrum master to intervene and interrupt a team member when he/she starts telling about points beyond those 3 that I mentioned?

Yes, it is. The Scrum Master is a servant-leader whose primary responsibilities are to act as both a coach and a process referee. The Scrum Guide specifically calls out this responsibility by making the Scrum Master responsible for proactively facilitating Scrum events such as the Daily Scrum. It makes this proactive, discretionary aspect clear when it says (emphasis mine):

Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed

The section on the Daily Scrum goes on to say (emphasis mine):

The structure of the meeting is set by the Development Team and can be conducted in different ways if it focuses on progress toward the Sprint Goal. Some Development Teams will use questions, some will be more discussion based...

The Scrum Master ensures that the Development Team has the meeting, but the Development Team is responsible for conducting the Daily Scrum. The Scrum Master teaches the Development Team to keep the Daily Scrum within the 15-minute time-box.

The Daily Scrum is an internal meeting for the Development Team. If others are present, the Scrum Master ensures that they do not disrupt the meeting.

While it might be tempting to treat the second paragraph above as a prohibition against any kind of Scrum Master participation in the Daily Scrum, the contextual intent is to to prevent the meeting from turning into a status pull from the Scrum Master (or anyone else). The Daily Scrum is a coordination meeting, not a report to an authority figure.

In fulfilling the Scrum Master's role as coach and process referee, a Scrum Master is obligated to point out when the framework isn't being followed, or when the team is missing an opportunity to leverage the framework to best advantage. This is subtly different from the Scrum Master running the meeting. If you think of it more as a teachable moment, rather than a power play, then you're on the right track!

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Before I share my view based on my experience and knowledge, few points to remeber or reminder that is relevant to this situation.

Scrum is not a process it is tool. Agile does not mean follow process, adopt the situation and it values more result rather than following process. Scrum master is to serve the team in a way that team can focus on sprint and sprint related work only. Anything except the sprint work comnes in to the way of team, it is scrum master's job to isolate team as much as possible from that distraction/impediments or help team over come it with least disruption to the current sprint.

Now my stright feedback is YES, it is scrum master responsibility to remind team during scrum why they are doing scrum.

Here I see the few team members themselves are becoming impediments to overall teams progress. You could wait for retrospective and bring the discussion on the table as other members have suggested here but in you situation that mostky not end up good because the team is fairly new to agile. That approch works best for team who have been practicing agile for a while and not only understand most of the agile concepts but they have become self managed agile team. If you try this approch (i have done this ) mostly it ends up in blaming game and thats not we want to see in the team. I can explain why and how offline if you want to. For now i will move on to other aspect of my explanation.

Now lets focus on why and how? Why scrum master need/should interrupt? 1)Because at this point scrum master is here to facilitate the quick communication and co-ordination between team members that help everyone to understand if team is making prigress on what tbey commited ? If not what is the blocking? 2)Because team members are fairly new to agile practice and scrum master needs to guide them what is the purpose of scrum. Its a quick update about work done and needs to be done for current sprint. Nothing more than that. 3)Because scrum master need to tackle any impediments that is blocking team making progress here clear communication is sure looks like impediment. 4)because scrum master needs to help team identify the waste and help them remove or overcome it. Over communication is waste here. And many more I can relate but i guess you must have got my point.

Now How scrum master can handle this? Specific to this situation I think reminding team members what they shod be talking about just right before the scrum is good start. Even by doing so if few mmebers are going way off consistently stop them right in scrum and follow up with their concerns. By thus time it should be pretty clear to scrum master that what is waste or intonational disruption and what is just lake of understanding. By doing so initially some members might feel tbey left out and not given enough info or update. But that ok. They will speak up in retrospective and mebtioned how they are feeling. Thats the time when scrum master can take their feedback and try to accomodate any valid inputs.

Bringing in original topic to retrospective is too late to remind and kind of recreating the issue and that why i do not think its effective for new team. For them this is hard to understand this is an actual issue or waste.

There are more ways we can handleand try it out. Let us know if this make sense or if you feel positive about this approch. Happy to help offline or by any other way I can

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AADTechnical, as Nathan wrote before me, it is exactly the Scrum Master who should be facilitating the meeting. It is OK and Scrum Master's job to interrupt any member of the Development Team if they start going into details.

He is supposed to suggest a new meeting for that topic, including only the people to whom the topic is meant.

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