In this episode of Trainer Talk – the supplemental series to the Agile Coaches’ Corner podcast – Sam Falco, an agile coach and Certified Scrum Professional, answers the question, “Is there anything wrong with the Scrum Master scheduling and running all the Scrum events?”
Today’s question came up in a discussion about the perception that a Scrum Master’s responsibility includes scheduling and running all the Scrum events. Is there anything wrong with that being the Scrum Master’s responsibility?
Danger 1: Scrum Master as the Admin Assistant
The Scrum Guide says that one of the Scrum Master’s services to the Product Owner and to the development team includes “Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed.” While that’s true, I think there are hidden dangers in assuming that “as requested or needed” means “always.”
The first danger is that it risks turning the Scrum Master into an administrative assistant to the team. Remember that a Scrum Master is also supposed to provide other services to the Scrum team and to the organization at large. When a Scrum Master’s primary responsibility is to schedule meetings and run them, it necessarily means that the Scrum Master has to limit other activities that may provide higher value.
Danger 2: Teams Will Not Self-Organize
The second danger, and the more significant one, is that it may impair the team’s ability to self-organize. This is especially true in the case of the Daily Scrum. The Daily Scrum is a tool for the development team to self-organize around solving problems, and the development team is explicitly given responsibility for conducting the Daily Scrum. When this responsibility is shifted onto the Scrum Master’s shoulders, the Daily Scrum often transforms from a collaboration session into a round-robin status report of development team members to the Scrum Master. For the other events, it is valuable for everyone on the Scrum team to develop the skills necessary to facilitate the Sprint planning, Sprint review, and Sprint retrospective events.
There’s nothing wrong with a Scrum Master facilitating events “as requested or needed,” but if the Scrum Master is always needed and is always requested, it’s a sign that the Scrum team needs to work on its self-organization.
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