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In a scrum team, the team has decided that they want to hold their morning standups at 10am. The team is in London, and claimed that 9:30 is marginally early, in the sense that sometimes public transport isn't working properly, high traffic etc.

The scrum master has conveyed the message that the team has decided to hold their morning standups at 10am. The manager's answer was, "no...why? so that everyone can come in at 10? No, I want the stand ups to take place at 9:30".

Who's call should be at the end of the day, what time the standups take place and other such affairs?

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Things wrong with this picture:

  • Scrum doesn't have a "development manager". This sounds like a company who's unwilling to let go of the past. Admittedly this can be a difficult and long process. So this role might be a concession that was necessary to get scrum off the ground in the first place. But the role shouldn't be needed. (Maybe that's the reason for this conflict - the sense of impending obsolescence)
  • Nobody except the team needs to be at the stand up. Optional participants are possible but their scheduling preferences should not outweigh those of the team
  • The scrum team is supposed to be self-organizing. This is one of the things that falls under that category.
  • The agile manifesto puts "individuals and interactions over processes and tools". Consensus should be perferred over staking claim to authority.
  • The response of the manager suggests that he operates on the premise that his viewpoint is more important than that of the team. This attitude is detrimental to building a cohesive and healthy team.

So from an ideological and practical point of view this is the team's decision. Realistically this is not about where the authority should be, but about where the authority actually is. If the manager has the clout to reprimand the team for not showing up to the meeting at 9:30 then that's the time the meeting will take place. In that case the best you can do is try to find out why 10 is a problem for him and negotiate a way to satisfy his needs in a way that is more convenient for the team.

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    Scrum doesn't have a "development manager". This sounds like a company who's unwilling to let go of the past. Not necessarily. Most organizations need management (1:1s, hiring and firing, performance evaluation, career development support). This isn't a Scrum role, but it's not a role that is made obsolete because an organization is building products within the Scrum framework. – Thomas Owens Oct 18 '17 at 14:57
  • I think the manager's concern is that he assumes that if the team is told that we do standup at 10am, everyone will show up just in time for that (say 9:50). Therefore having a (formal) team meeting, makes everyone be on time. FYI the SM has pushed hard on this but the manager's reply was a solid "no, I cannot do that, sorry". Going back to the thread's topic, how hard should the SM push someone who is technically above him i.e. his line manager? That also ties back to the fact that the dev manager is obsolete in a scrum team, but usually doesn't happen. – dqm Oct 18 '17 at 14:59
  • @dqm Seem like a serious lack of trust in the dev team by the manager. For me as an outsider this raises the question: Does the team have an issue with showing up on time? Is starting at 9:30 common in London? I've never worked in a place that didn't have mandatory office hours starting at least at 8:30. – Kempeth Oct 19 '17 at 6:22
  • @Kempeth I think this is the root if the problem. I guess the manager doesn't like confrontation since the team was indeed showing up late (later than 9.30, maybe 9.40 or even 9.50) whereas the working hours are 9-5.30. This is a case of a consulting tram working on a huge client without line management (only the project manager who is higher in responsibilities and rank than the rest of the team). So effectively he wants to use the morning scrum as a way to gather everyone. It's very normal in London starting anywhere between 9-9.30. – dqm Oct 19 '17 at 7:20
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    @dqm And has that worked? Sounds to me the team has already shown up later than 9:30 despite the daily scrum being at that time. You could try to argue that daily scrum isn't roll call and it would be better for the meeting's true objective (syncing the team) to have everyone present than to have it earlier in a failed attempt to coax people to work. But the team does have to own up to fact they are coming in significantly later than official working hours. This could be causing problems (client interaction/availability) and resentment. – Kempeth Oct 19 '17 at 10:03
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Per the Scrum Guide:

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.

This means that, according to the rules of Scrum, the Development Team should have the freedom to choose the time and the place of the Daily Scrum, while the Scrum Master teaches the Development Team the rules of the Daily Scrum (the purpose, the intent, the timebox).

In reality, there are likely to be some constraints on the time and place of the Daily Scrum. If there are multiple teams, the teams need to coordinate the available spaces where the meeting will be held. If there are tools required (a phone for remote team members to call in, the need for a TV to project an electronic board), then that also constrains that places how, when, and where the Daily Scrum is held.

However, this question borders on some subjects that are outside of the Scrum framework. One thing is the concept of "core hours" - this is a management decision. Management may require employees to be in the office by 0930. However, if employees are required to be in the office at 0930, it may not be conducive to hold the Daily Scrum immediately at that time.

The responsibilities of Scrum Master is to help the organization adopt an agile approach and implement the Scrum framework. When management decisions start to push up against the rules of the Scrum framework, then the Scrum Master should get involved and help management and the team(s) reach a good state.

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The manager's answer was, "no...why? so that everyone can come in at 10? No, I want the stand ups to take place at 9:30".

To touch on this specific point rather than the general question asked, I would point out that the team determined that the meetings would be most efficiently held at this time, and there's no prescription that daily standups should happen first thing. There are often things it is useful to clear up or review in the morning before diving into the standup, and it also allows time for people to work uninterrupted for an hour or so before taking a meeting break.

But good grief, micromanagement! Good luck.

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It's not a matter of authority, it's what helps the team get work done for the sprint. Two suggestions depending on the manager's attendance:

  • If the manager is a part of the meeting, servant-leadership suggests you work keeping the overall team's benefit in mind.

  • If they're not part of the meeting, this is micro-management and sounds like they enjoy the "command and conquer" style approach. Negotiate and find out what they're looking to get; it could be a simple status (which the SM should be communicating anyway) to ensure that the work is on track.

  • It's a new team (2-3 months) and not necessary mature in the whole scrum framework. The scrum master is working towards that, but we all know it's something that takes time. I think the manager doesn't mean to harm the team or hinder its progress, he is present at the meeting, and if anything he usually has a helpful input, usually at the end of the meeting. He does come in 2 hours before the official start hours so one might argue that he feels that 9:30 is already late enough. – dqm Oct 18 '17 at 14:41
  • I would also add that all managers who don't necessarily have a scrum background (or for that matter, even if they do), is not easy to "let go" a newly formed team to a new scrum master's hands. That's something that takes time as well. – dqm Oct 18 '17 at 14:42
  • @dqm, both those traits you've described sound eerily symptomatic of micro-management behaviour :) – John MP Oct 18 '17 at 15:41
  • The Daily Scrum is an internal meeting for the Development Team. The Scrum Guide. If the manager wishes to observe then they must remain silent while the self-organizing Development Team remains in control of scheduling and conducting the event. – Alan Larimer Jan 27 '18 at 3:03

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