Daily Scrum: To Follow The Rules…Or Not
The Daily Scrum
I recently tweeted a comment about the importance of priming the product owner about how they might possibly impact the team’s behaviour at a daily scrum meeting, should they turn up.
One of the first responses I received referred to a line in the Scrum Guide saying:
“The Scrum Master enforces the rule that only Development Team members participate in the Daily Scrum.”
And there was a lot of interesting discussion about whether or not to follow the rules of Scrum. Firstly, there was a clarification tweet from Stephan Kristiansen who quite rightly pointed out that the Scrum Guide only bars those outside of the development team from participating:
The conversation focused on participation from those outside the development team and, in particular, the product owner.
Personally I have found that often people, teams and organisations stray from the rules of Scrum far too early in an attempt to avoid a dysfunction that is difficult for them to tackle. But this is what the rules are there for in many ways, to force organisations to use Scrum to address their dysfunctions.
However, I have also found myself advocating that people, teams and organisations strive to get past Scrum into a post-Scrum world.
My original tweet comes from my book Scrum Mastery and hopefully the context below will explain what I mean by this:
“Daily scrums and retrospectives [often] start off as behind-closed-doors or off-site meetings. As the team grows comfortable with each other, they can extend an invitation to the product owner— perhaps for a safe meeting first—and then gradually for meetings where the team has a higher risk of exposure. I would recommend an element of priming the product owner (or any other stakeholder) for how to avoid negatively influencing the team’s behaviour.
Working up to a level of trust will help teams feel less anxious about their visibility and prevent them from losing value in the meetings altogether. Remember that while protecting the team by excluding disruptive influences may be a good short-term strategy, great ScrumMasters work towards a more inclusive and transparent process. Eventually your team should reach a point where the product owner—as well as any other stakeholder—is included in team meetings, such as the daily scrum.”
Should The Product Owner Participate In The Daily Scrum?
Personally some of the best daily scrums I have ever seen have been where product owners have been participating. Equally, some of the worst daily scrums I have ever seen have been where product owners have been participating.
There are times when dogmatically adhering to a strict rule is absolutely the right thing to do and helps the team and organisation. There are also times when following that very same rule is the wrong thing to do. The job of the ScrumMaster is to intuit where the team is and where they would ideally like to be, then help them get closer to that ideal point over time, by either sticking to the rules or not.