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One of the tasks of the Scrum Master is to be aware of the mood of his team, it's a part of his empathic behaviour, but is the Scrum master in charge of organizing team lunch, finding restaurant etc?

It is always a source of conflict to satisfy everyone in the team, and we see how "diplomacy" is not fair, even when the majority wants something, the mood will be heavily impacted by the minority who wanted something else, Am I having a spoiled team ?

It makes me tired, because the team has bigger problems to solve.

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  • Where do you see that the Scrum Master is responsible or accountable for the mood of the team? Also, the use of "his team" may give the impression that the Scrum Master holds some kind of power over the team - if this your interpretation, where do you get that idea?
    – Thomas Owens
    Dec 7, 2022 at 15:18
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    Why and how often are you having a "team lunch" and what problem is it supposed to solve?
    – nvoigt
    Dec 7, 2022 at 16:24

3 Answers 3

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It doesn't matter what the book says, at the end what matters is the intention and function of what you are trying to do.

So what's the intention behind having team dinners? Hopefully, by answering this question you'll see that the well being of the team is a team effort! And not one person responsibility.

Having that in mind, I would suggest take it to the team and take turns for organising it.

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Nothing in the Scrum framework makes the Scrum Master responsible or accountable for team building activities.

The Scrum Master "is accountable for establishing Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide" and "is accountable for the Scrum Team's effectiveness", which is achieved "by enabling the Scrum Team to improve its practices within the Scrum framework". Personally, I would also extend this to include recognizing if Scrum is an inappropriate framework for the team's environment and taking steps to help the team find the best way of working.

Nothing in these accountabilities explicitly makes the Scrum Master need to be aware of the team's mood, organize team lunches or other team building activities. Implicitly, if the team's mood or atmosphere is an impediment to progress and is becoming an issue in creating high-value Increments, then it would be within the Scrum Master's purview to help to remove those impediments.

If there's conflict in the team, I would recommend addressing root causes. There may be deeper issues than arguments over where to go for lunch. Once the root causes are understood, the Scrum Master may be able to address them with the members of the team or go outside the team to other people in the organization who can help resolve the issues. I suspect that there are deeper issues within the team, but there's insufficient information to even begin to understand what those may be.

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TL;DR

The Scrum Master is a coach and facilitator, as well as a process referee. There's no reason a Scrum Master couldn't or shouldn't facilitate team building exercises, but when you start asking "Whose job is it to make lunch reservations?" then you're already past the point where going to lunch together is likely to solve anything.

Analysis and Recommendations

High-Level Analysis

[I]s the Scrum master in charge of organizing [a] team lunch, finding restaurant (sic) etc?

This is an X/Y problem. While the 2020 edition of the Scrum Guide says:

The Scrum Master is accountable for the Scrum Team’s effectiveness.

and includes a specific bullet point making the Scrum Master responsible for:

Ensuring that all Scrum events take place and are positive, productive, and kept within the timebox.

you are fundamentally addressing the problem the wrong way around. Your problem isn't about whether you go to lunch, where you go to lunch, or whose job it is to plan a lunch; your real problem is that the Scrum Team (including the Scrum Master) isn't behaving like a cohesive team.

Deeper Analysis and Root Causes

Another way to look at this is that the Scrum Master is a member of the Scrum Team, and as such can take on tasks that are useful in training, coaching, facilitating the Scrum Team's activities, or removing impediments to progress. If the Scrum Team agrees that team lunches or other team-building exercises have value, then there's no reason a Scrum Master shouldn't do the legwork while the rest of the team is working on other things.

However, since you wrote that "the team has bigger problems to solve" then it's rather dubious to think that taking everyone out for pizza or wall-climbing is going to solve the underlying dynamics within the team. These are issues that should be addressed within Sprint Retrospectives, additional team and one-on-one coaching during each Sprint, and generally addressed head-on.

A "team" isn't a team just because you slap a bunch of people together in the same room; a team is a group of people who are actively working together to reach a common goal. If you don't have that, you don't have a Scrum Team. Ispo facto, debating lunch planning responsibilities means that:

  1. Communications and collaboration within the team are problematic at best.
  2. You are well past the point where going to lunch is sufficient to solve the collaboration and interpersonal problems you already know you have.
  3. Is unlikely to uncover additional issues you don't know you have.
  4. You as the Scrum Master are also part of the problem, because you're one of the people debating whether something is your responsibility or not rather than collaborating with the rest of the team to get it done.

That last bullet is especially important. While a one-off lunch isn't going to make a big difference, the fact that you're even questioning whether a trivial responsibility is yours or not points to a core dysfunction within the Scrum Team.

Recommendations

My near-term recommendation is that you work with the rest of the Scrum Team to identify as many of the current dysfunctions as you can, and then work together to find a solution to the real problems the team is facing. If you need help and support to do that, then speak to your leadership team and ask for help and guidance from line management, your agile leadership team, and your company's agile coaches. If necessary, ask for additional budget to hire or contract an agile coach to help you and the rest of the team improve the Scrum Team's collaborative processes and its team members' ability to leverage the Scrum framework.

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