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What is a Daily Scrum?

The Daily Scrum is a tool used by the Scrum team to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and assess how progress is trending toward completion of the work against the Sprint Backlog. The Daily Scrum is an important agile ceremony at the heart of the Agile framework. The Daily Scrum is a 15-minute time-boxed event for the Scrum team. The Daily Scrum is held every day of the Sprint. At it, the Scrum team plans work for the next 24 hours. This optimizes team collaboration and performance by inspecting the work since the last Daily Scrum and forecasting upcoming Sprint work. The Daily Scrum is held at the same time and place each day to reduce complexity. Scrum Guide 2017 The Team meets daily, preferably at the start of the day in a meeting called the daily scrum. This is strictly time boxed to 15 minutes. This keeps the discussion brisk and relevant. All team members are required to attend the meeting including scrum masters. Product owners and Manager are optional; if they attend, they are advised to be silent listeners. In this article, we understand  Purpose of the Daily Scrum During the daily scrum, each team member should answer the following three questions: What did you do yesterday? What will you do today? Are there any impediments in your way? By focusing on what each person accomplished yesterday and is planning to accomplish today, the team gains an excellent understanding of what work has been done and how much work remains.  During the Daily Scrum, the main question should be about impediments; if any of the team members facing any impediments, they are required to bring it to the fore and someone from the team will volunteer to help out. The discussion about the impediments will happen offline, so that the 15-minute window is not disturbed. In most cases, the team will figure out the solution themselves. If it is beyond the ability of the team, then it becomes the prime responsibility of the Scrum Master to listen, understand and remove the impediments standing in the way of the team’s delivery.Scrum Master and impedimentsWho runs the Daily Scrum meeting?While the Scrum Master ensures that the Scrum team meets daily at the specified time, it is the Scrum team who is responsible for conducting the daily meetings. The Scrum Master coaches the Scrum team to keep the daily scrum meeting timeboxed to 15 minutes. This is a step towards making the agile team self-organized. Inspection and adaption at the heart of Scrum The Scrum team uses the Daily Scrum to inspect the progress towards the Sprint Goal. The daily scrum increases the probability of the Scrum team meeting the Sprint Goal. The goal is to make the team self-motivated and self-organized. The discussion in daily scrum should be limited to the three questions mentioned above, if there are any further discussions required, the team can meet outside of this call and set up separate meetings with other team members. This meeting improves communication and collaboration, eliminates other meetings, removes impediments, improves the health of the sprint, and promotes quick decision-making. It is a key “inspect and adapt” meeting. What are the basic rules of the Daily Scrum? The Daily Scrum is not a status update meeting The daily scrum meeting is not a status update meeting in which a manager is collecting information about who is behind schedule. Rather, it is a meeting in which team members make commitments to each other. By virtue of this meeting, the team gets an idea about where the sprint is heading – is it behind schedule or ahead? Accordingly, corrective steps can be taken. The Daily Scrum is not a problem-solving meeting This meeting should not be considered as a problem-solving opportunity. Issues that are raised must be taken offline right after the scrum meeting with the specific group of people concerned with the issues. Some Anti patterns for Daily ScrumAnti-patterns for Daily ScrumChanging the time of the scrum daily This is not a good practice and Scrum Master should ensure that the team meets at the same time daily with minimal exception. Daily Scrum is used to discuss new requirements or technical tasks This will again hijack the purpose of the daily scrum; such discussions should be taken offline, outside of the daily scrum meeting. Daily Scrum changed to status report In many instances, a senior person other than scrum team member joins the daily scrum and in some sort of fear, this changes to a status meeting; Scrum master is required here to help the Scrum team. Ageing of work item age Scrum team is facing difficulty in getting one issue resolved from so many days and no one is offering help. Scrum Master should intervene here and remove the impediment. Allowing one person to lead This meeting is for the team and no one should lead here. A key tenet is to move the teams towards becoming self-directed and self-organized. Cluelessness or not listening Sometimes, team members are so keen for their turn and their statuses that they will miss out important communication. Stating the same daily task on every consecutive day We need to think about why the same status is continuing and whether there is anything that is holding a team member up; the team should work on that immediately to remove the impediment. Why a stand up? A stand up is typically a short, time-boxed meeting of 15 minutes. When the team members are co-located, the discomfort of standing up during the meeting will serve to keep tab on how long the meeting runs for and helps it to be short and time boxed. Importance of the Scrum Board Scrum board is highly recommended in the daily scrum meeting. It gives better visibility to not only the team but other stakeholders too. In case somebody missed the daily scrum, meeting can quickly go through the scrum board and gather updates from there. It is recommended that scrum board not only has the data of the sprint progress but it should also have sprint burn down chart also so that the team will have updates on the health of the sprint. On top of the board, the Goal of the sprint should also be mentioned along with Definition of Done list.Ideally, one should not book the conference room for daily scrum meeting. Conducting the meeting as a stand-up keeps the meeting short. In many instances, team members are not on time for the Daily Scrum and also tend to skip it. Here, it is the responsibility of the Scrum master to make sure that all team members understand the responsibility of the meeting and try their best to attend the meeting on time. If the situation doesn’t improve, then teams can employ different tactics such as daily fines or penalties so that team members do not skip the meeting. It ultimately depends on the team how they want to cultivate a discipline of culture within the team. Who are the participants of a Daily Scrum? The entire team which includes Developers, Testers, Business Analyst, Architects, Dev leads/Tech leads. Product owner are welcome to attend the Daily scrum, though this is not mandated. Managers should generally avoid these meetings, as there are high chances of losing focus and the meeting turning into a status check meeting. What are the responsibilities of the three Scrum roles during the Daily Scrum? Scrum team’s responsibility Individual responsibility Each team member must answer the three important questions: (1) What you have done?(2) What will you do today? (3) Are there any impediments? Not only must the individual team members pay attention to others’ updates, but also listen to see if there is any impediment that they can help solve. Team responsibility Together, the team bears the responsibility to ensure that they meet daily for 15 minutes and provide the updates. The Scrum team is collectively responsible for conducting daily scrum meetings. Scrum Master’s responsibility Scrum master ensures Scrum team meets daily within a 15-minute time box. The daily scrum meeting is an internal meeting; if other stakeholders are present, then the scrum master must make sure they do not disrupt the meeting. Product Owner’s responsibility While not a mandatory attendee, the Product owner is welcome to attend, listen and observe. It is good for a product owner to attend the Daily scrum as it will give them the opportunity to guide the team if any team members deviate from the Sprint Goal or if there is change in the scope or goal of the sprint. What should the Daily Scrum approach be for virtual, distributed, and co-located teams? First and the foremost thing that needs to be kept in mind that we should respect each other timings. Few hours of overlap is definitely required when the teams are not collocated. Video conferencing or any tools like skype meeting or team meetings can be used to do daily scrum meetings. We have seen non-collocated teams to be more loosely coupled than collocated teams. Here are some measures that teams can take to increase the effectiveness of the remote daily scrum. Team should institute the following measures. Install video cameras and speakers: While carrying out the Daily Scrum remotely, investing in the right set of web cameras and speakers helps retain the effectiveness of collocated Scrum meetings; privacy aspects would need to be carefully considered before enforcing this. Consider time zones: Respect the time zones of all the remote teams and have considerable amounts of overlap between the teams. Invest in tools: Organizations must invest in good tools such as JIRA and Visual Studio Online to help the team speed up work and by syncing up easily. While such tools are not meant to replace the physical daily scrum meeting, they help the team see the daily progress happening across locations. Travel: Even the scrum guide says that travel budget should be kept aside for successful delivery with offshore teams. Let people gather at one location, hang out, discuss, make good friends, understand, and share their cultures and build trust. It helps to build the collaboration, communication, and richness. What is the outcome of the Daily Scrum? The Daily Scrum is basically a health check of the sprint deliverables. The outcome of the Daily Scrum is that the team learns early of any impediments to any individual’s work, which can be immediately addressed. If there are any deviations from the original plan, then this can be tracked easily through the Daily Scrum. What are the challenges in running the Daily Scrum? Distributed teams If the team is geographically collocated, then there might be challenges in running daily scrum due to different time zones. Here, the teams must find some overlap in timing across the time zones among the teams. Although a physical scrum board is not possible in such cases, agile tools like Jira and Visual Studio Online can fulfil this to some extent. Resistance to change A change of mindset from the waterfall to the agile model will have some challenges initially. Scrum team members should have the mindset to adjust the change in requirements as well as change in priorities. Invest some time in inculcating Agile mindset and principles along with Scrum values. Team stands still and thinks it is the waste of time A few team members may have the attitude that this meeting is just a waste of time and will therefore not pay any attention to the updates from other team members. Such team members are hindrances to the delivery of the project. Their concerns must be addressed, and mindset corrected on an immediate basis. Discussion on urgent scope change, defect or integration testing In some instances, team members may start a discussion on burning topics such as an escalation on high priority defects. However, even in such cases, the team should adhere to the guidelines for the scrum meeting and all other items right after scrum meeting. Long technical discussions in the daily scrum is the waste of time of other team members Long technical discussions should be strictly avoided in scrum meetings as this may not be relevant for other team members. Such discussions must be had in smaller forums at other times than the daily scrum meetings. How can we make the Daily Scrum more effective? For the Daily Scrum to be used effectively, teams must understand its importance and adhere to the timings and be punctual for this meeting. The team must always keep the scrum board up to date, have meetings around it, and let each team members update the board. If distributed teams are using the board (with online tools like Rally or Jira), then these must be maintained up to date before the daily scrums.  Teams must use the “parking lot” for any other technical discussion that need to be conducted outside of the daily scrum. Burn down charts and the Sprint Goal must always be updated on the scrum board. It is always effective to have a standup meeting rather than sitting down. Some teams use a game like passing the ball or calling the other team member’s name to keep the energy going rather than taking the same sequence repeatedly. ConclusionFor the Daily Scrum to be used effectively, teams must understand its importance and adhere to the timings and be punctual for this meeting. The team must always keep the scrum board up to date, have meetings around it, and let each team members update the board. If distributed 

What is a Daily Scrum?

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  • by Shilpi Jain
  • 15th Jul, 2020
  • Last updated on 15th Mar, 2021
  • 11 mins read
What is a Daily Scrum?

The Daily Scrum is a tool used by the Scrum team to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and assess how progress is trending toward completion of the work against the Sprint Backlog. The Daily Scrum is an important agile ceremony at the heart of the Agile framework. 

The Daily Scrum is a 15-minute time-boxed event for the Scrum team. The Daily Scrum is held every day of the Sprint. At it, the Scrum team plans work for the next 24 hours. This optimizes team collaboration and performance by inspecting the work since the last Daily Scrum and forecasting upcoming Sprint work. The Daily Scrum is held at the same time and place each day to reduce complexity. 

Scrum Guide 2017 

The Team meets daily, preferably at the start of the day in a meeting called the daily scrum. This is strictly time boxed to 15 minutes. This keeps the discussion brisk and relevant. All team members are required to attend the meeting including scrum masters. Product owners and Manager are optional; if they attend, they are advised to be silent listeners. 

In this article, we understand  

Purpose of the Daily Scrum 

During the daily scrum, each team member should answer the following three questions: 

  • What did you do yesterday? 
  • What will you do today? 
  • Are there any impediments in your way? 

By focusing on what each person accomplished yesterday and is planning to accomplish today, the team gains an excellent understanding of what work has been done and how much work remains.  

During the Daily Scrum, the main question should be about impediments; if any of the team members facing any impediments, they are required to bring it to the fore and someone from the team will volunteer to help out. The discussion about the impediments will happen offline, so that the 15-minute window is not disturbed. In most cases, the team will figure out the solution themselves. If it is beyond the ability of the team, then it becomes the prime responsibility of the Scrum Master to listen, understand and remove the impediments standing in the way of the team’s delivery.

Scrum Master and impedimentsScrum Master and impediments

Who runs the Daily Scrum meeting?

While the Scrum Master ensures that the Scrum team meets daily at the specified time, it is the Scrum team who is responsible for conducting the daily meetings. The Scrum Master coaches the Scrum team to keep the daily scrum meeting timeboxed to 15 minutes. This is a step towards making the agile team self-organized. 

Inspection and adaption at the heart of Scrum 

The Scrum team uses the Daily Scrum to inspect the progress towards the Sprint Goal. The daily scrum increases the probability of the Scrum team meeting the Sprint Goal. The goal is to make the team self-motivated and self-organized. 

The discussion in daily scrum should be limited to the three questions mentioned above, if there are any further discussions required, the team can meet outside of this call and set up separate meetings with other team members. 

This meeting improves communication and collaboration, eliminates other meetings, removes impediments, improves the health of the sprint, and promotes quick decision-making. It is a key “inspect and adapt” meeting. 

What are the basic rules of the Daily Scrum? 

The Daily Scrum is not a status update meeting 

The daily scrum meeting is not a status update meeting in which a manager is collecting information about who is behind schedule. Rather, it is a meeting in which team members make commitments to each other. By virtue of this meeting, the team gets an idea about where the sprint is heading – is it behind schedule or ahead? Accordingly, corrective steps can be taken. 

The Daily Scrum is not a problem-solving meeting 

This meeting should not be considered as a problem-solving opportunity. Issues that are raised must be taken offline right after the scrum meeting with the specific group of people concerned with the issues. 

Some Anti patterns for Daily ScrumAnti-patterns for Daily ScrumAnti-patterns for Daily Scrum

Changing the time of the scrum daily 

This is not a good practice and Scrum Master should ensure that the team meets at the same time daily with minimal exception. 

Daily Scrum is used to discuss new requirements or technical tasks 

This will again hijack the purpose of the daily scrum; such discussions should be taken offline, outside of the daily scrum meeting. 

Daily Scrum changed to status report 

In many instances, a senior person other than scrum team member joins the daily scrum and in some sort of fear, this changes to a status meeting; Scrum master is required here to help the Scrum team. 

Ageing of work item age 

Scrum team is facing difficulty in getting one issue resolved from so many days and no one is offering help. Scrum Master should intervene here and remove the impediment. 

Allowing one person to lead 

This meeting is for the team and no one should lead here. A key tenet is to move the teams towards becoming self-directed and self-organized. 

Cluelessness or not listening 

Sometimes, team members are so keen for their turn and their statuses that they will miss out important communication. 

Stating the same daily task on every consecutive day 

We need to think about why the same status is continuing and whether there is anything that is holding a team member up; the team should work on that immediately to remove the impediment. 

Why a stand up? 

A stand up is typically a short, time-boxed meeting of 15 minutes. When the team members are co-located, the discomfort of standing up during the meeting will serve to keep tab on how long the meeting runs for and helps it to be short and time boxed. 

Importance of the Scrum Board 

Scrum board is highly recommended in the daily scrum meeting. 

It gives better visibility to not only the team but other stakeholders too. In case somebody missed the daily scrum, meeting can quickly go through the scrum board and gather updates from there. It is recommended that scrum board not only has the data of the sprint progress but it should also have sprint burn down chart also so that the team will have updates on the health of the sprint. On top of the board, the Goal of the sprint should also be mentioned along with Definition of Done list.

Ideally, one should not book the conference room for daily scrum meeting. Conducting the meeting as a stand-up keeps the meeting short. 

In many instances, team members are not on time for the Daily Scrum and also tend to skip it. Here, it is the responsibility of the Scrum master to make sure that all team members understand the responsibility of the meeting and try their best to attend the meeting on time. 

If the situation doesn’t improve, then teams can employ different tactics such as daily fines or penalties so that team members do not skip the meeting. It ultimately depends on the team how they want to cultivate a discipline of culture within the team. 

Who are the participants of a Daily Scrum? 

The entire team which includes Developers, Testers, Business Analyst, Architects, Dev leads/Tech leads. Product owner are welcome to attend the Daily scrum, though this is not mandated. 

Managers should generally avoid these meetings, as there are high chances of losing focus and the meeting turning into a status check meeting. 

What are the responsibilities of the three Scrum roles during the Daily Scrum? 

Scrum team’s responsibility 

Individual responsibility 

Each team member must answer the three important questions: (1) What you have done?(2) What will you do today? (3) Are there any impediments? Not only must the individual team members pay attention to others’ updates, but also listen to see if there is any impediment that they can help solve. 

Team responsibility 

Together, the team bears the responsibility to ensure that they meet daily for 15 minutes and provide the updates. The Scrum team is collectively responsible for conducting daily scrum meetings. 

Scrum Master’s responsibility 

Scrum master ensures Scrum team meets daily within a 15-minute time box. The daily scrum meeting is an internal meeting; if other stakeholders are present, then the scrum master must make sure they do not disrupt the meeting. 

Product Owner’s responsibility 

While not a mandatory attendee, the Product owner is welcome to attend, listen and observe. It is good for a product owner to attend the Daily scrum as it will give them the opportunity to guide the team if any team members deviate from the Sprint Goal or if there is change in the scope or goal of the sprint. 

What should the Daily Scrum approach be for virtual, distributed, and co-located teams? 

First and the foremost thing that needs to be kept in mind that we should respect each other timings. Few hours of overlap is definitely required when the teams are not collocated. Video conferencing or any tools like skype meeting or team meetings can be used to do daily scrum meetings. We have seen non-collocated teams to be more loosely coupled than collocated teams. 

Here are some measures that teams can take to increase the effectiveness of the remote daily scrum. Team should institute the following measures. 

  1. Install video cameras and speakers: While carrying out the Daily Scrum remotely, investing in the right set of web cameras and speakers helps retain the effectiveness of collocated Scrum meetings; privacy aspects would need to be carefully considered before enforcing this. 
  2. Consider time zones: Respect the time zones of all the remote teams and have considerable amounts of overlap between the teams. 
  3. Invest in tools: Organizations must invest in good tools such as JIRA and Visual Studio Online to help the team speed up work and by syncing up easily. While such tools are not meant to replace the physical daily scrum meeting, they help the team see the daily progress happening across locations. 
  4. Travel: Even the scrum guide says that travel budget should be kept aside for successful delivery with offshore teams. Let people gather at one location, hang out, discuss, make good friends, understand, and share their cultures and build trust. 

It helps to build the collaboration, communication, and richness. 

What is the outcome of the Daily Scrum? 

The Daily Scrum is basically a health check of the sprint deliverables. The outcome of the Daily Scrum is that the team learns early of any impediments to any individual’s work, which can be immediately addressed. If there are any deviations from the original plan, then this can be tracked easily through the Daily Scrum. 

What are the challenges in running the Daily Scrum? 

  • Distributed teams 

If the team is geographically collocated, then there might be challenges in running daily scrum due to different time zones. Here, the teams must find some overlap in timing across the time zones among the teams. Although a physical scrum board is not possible in such cases, agile tools like Jira and Visual Studio Online can fulfil this to some extent. 

  • Resistance to change 

A change of mindset from the waterfall to the agile model will have some challenges initially. Scrum team members should have the mindset to adjust the change in requirements as well as change in priorities. Invest some time in inculcating Agile mindset and principles along with Scrum values. 

  • Team stands still and thinks it is the waste of time 

A few team members may have the attitude that this meeting is just a waste of time and will therefore not pay any attention to the updates from other team members. Such team members are hindrances to the delivery of the project. Their concerns must be addressed, and mindset corrected on an immediate basis. 

  • Discussion on urgent scope change, defect or integration testing 

In some instances, team members may start a discussion on burning topics such as an escalation on high priority defects. However, even in such cases, the team should adhere to the guidelines for the scrum meeting and all other items right after scrum meeting. 

  • Long technical discussions in the daily scrum is the waste of time of other team members 

Long technical discussions should be strictly avoided in scrum meetings as this may not be relevant for other team members. Such discussions must be had in smaller forums at other times than the daily scrum meetings. 

How can we make the Daily Scrum more effective? 

For the Daily Scrum to be used effectively, teams must understand its importance and adhere to the timings and be punctual for this meeting. The team must always keep the scrum board up to date, have meetings around it, and let each team members update the board. If distributed teams are using the board (with online tools like Rally or Jira), then these must be maintained up to date before the daily scrums.  

Teams must use the “parking lot” for any other technical discussion that need to be conducted outside of the daily scrum. Burn down charts and the Sprint Goal must always be updated on the scrum board. 

It is always effective to have a standup meeting rather than sitting down. Some teams use a game like passing the ball or calling the other team member’s name to keep the energy going rather than taking the same sequence repeatedly. 

Conclusion

For the Daily Scrum to be used effectively, teams must understand its importance and adhere to the timings and be punctual for this meeting. The team must always keep the scrum board up to date, have meetings around it, and let each team members update the board. If distributed 

Shilpi

Shilpi Jain

Blog Author

Shilpi is an experienced Scrum Master have 9+ years of experience in IT industry. She worked in companies like GE Healthcare and Nokia Siemens and currently working as a freelancer where she has contributed in many Technical Articles on Scrum/Agile, Project Management Tools (Atlassian, Jira and Rally), Project Management, Scrum Agile Certifications Questions and Answers (Test Paper Writing). She carries certifications like Certified Scrum Master, Fundamentals of Scum, Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB). She always shares her personal experiences in her Articles. She is a passionate writer and blogger about the Scrum and Agile Methodology.

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While giving advise on how things should be done is necessary, appreciating the team on its achievements is equally important.   Respect for Others: Your team members all have different personalities and each brings their own uniqueness and expertise to the team. No one team member is less or more important than the other. An effective and efficient Scrum Master will recognise this early on and treat every team member with the same amount of respect.  Understanding of Situations in the Right Context:  Not all things are as what they appear. The sooner a scrum master understands this, the better. Situations in context to teams, individuals and even the organization are not always black and white and the Scrum Master must consider the baggage of organizational culture, current systems, internal politics, etc before coming to a conclusion about a team or a team members. Instead, one must attempt to form close relationships with the team and understand the workings of the team and the organizations before passing judgement. Ability to Have Tough Conversations :  You as a Scrum Master are often seen as a problem solver, friend and mentor. But don’t let this image of yours come in the way of making tough decisions or having tough conversations. As a Scrum Master you must have the courage to do the right thing and if this means having difficult but necessary conversations with either the team members, the product owner or the stakeholders, then you must do it.    Courage to Protect the Team:  More often than not, there are unreasonable demands made on the development team. The Scrum Master should have the courage to protect the team and say an emphatic ‘no’ to the Product Owner or the stakeholders.  Accountability: You are accountable for your team’s success as you are for its failures. If as a Scrum Master you want your team to be accountable then the best way to get them to do that is to be accountable yourself. You can do this by being more invested in the day-to-day activities of the team and considering yourself to be a part of the team as well.  Support for Team Members: As a Scrum Master you are not just invested in the project but also in the growth of individual team members. You should motivate, encourage and support your team members to grow and reach heights in their careers.   Deep Commitment: If the team feels that the Scrum Master is committed to the project, committed to the team and committed to the team members, then they are more likely to be open and transparent with the Scrum Master. This trust with the team has to be built so that team members can be open about the challenges they face. The Scrum Master is the voice of the team and must support them at all stages.   Focus on Improvement:  Scrum is all about continuous improvement and the success of the Scrum Master is also tied to the continuous improvement of the Scrum team. If your team is getting better with time then you are doing well as a Scrum Master. From daily sprints to retrospectives, the Scrum Master provides avenues for the team to improve itself, identify problems and suggest solutions to work better.  Conclusion Scrum is the most used Agile framework, yet there are several lessons that organizations need to learn about Scrum before they embark on a transformation journey. This lightweight and easy to use framework can turn around the fortunes of companies if implemented in the right way. It’s important for an organization’s culture to be ready to accept and implement Scrum for project and organizational success.  
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Why Scrum Is Lightweight; Simple To Understand; Di...

85 percent of respondents say Scrum continues to... Read More

Scrum Master – The Scrum Team’s Servant-Leader!

The term servant leader is synonymous with a Scrum Master. But what does it mean? The Scrum Master is a servant leader in Agile projects, but servant leadership goes far beyond Agile, and Scrum Masters serve more than just the team.In this blog we attempt to look at the Scrum Master’s role as a servant leader, what the role entails and the responsibilities of the Scrum Master beyond the team, in context to the organization. What is servant-leadership?The term servant leadership was first coined by Robert Greenleaf in his article “The Servant as Leader”, in which he defined a servant leader as: The Servant-Leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That leader significantly differs from one who is leader first, may be due to the need to acquire power, material belonging, control and authority within the organization. Servant leadership is something very different from traditional leadership, which places the leader at the top of the hierarchy and the employees in the lower rung. Servant leadership, in a sense, is the opposite of traditional leadership, as it places the leader at the bottom of the hierarchy while employees are on the higher rungs. The leaders, in this case, are serving the people above them. Servant leadership refers to leaders who believe in serving people and the community that they are a part of, rather than accumulating power for themselves. This style of leadership emphasizes on helping subordinates better themselves, empowering employees and helping others perform to the best of their abilities.Servant leadership does not prescribe telling employees what to do, instead it helps the workforce find their sense of ownership and unlock their potential to reach their goals. Servant leadership is all about empowering others, which when consistently done can raise morale, enhance productivity and reduce employee attrition.Servant Leadership and ScrumScrum, in a way, is the very essence of servant leadership. Unlike traditional project management methodologies, it does not follow a top-down, hierarchical approach. Instead, decisions are lateral and happen with the involvement of the whole team. Scrum is the perfect approach in which to practice the concept of servant leadership. The 5 Scrum values of Openness, Respect, Commitment, Courage, and Focus, adhere to the philosophy of Servant Leadership. The Scrum Master plays a key role in the development of the product, the team and the organization. The Scrum Guide defines the servant leadership a Scrum Master’s role has to perform in context to the roles mentioned above. The Scrum Values that a Scrum Master practices have a ripple effect throughout the organization. The Scrum Master is seen as an evangelist for practicing and promoting Scrum in the enterprise.The Agile Manifesto and servant-leadershipThe Agile Manifesto states that one must value: Individuals and interactions over Process and tools Working software over Comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over Contract negotiation Responding to change over Following a plan These again align with the values of servant leadership, which is all about putting people or employees first. The Agile Manifesto describes focusing on building projects around motivated individuals and giving them an environment of support, trust and collaboration—all characteristics of servant leadership.Who Are These Servant Leaders?The Scrum Guide defines the service provided by the Scrum Master as servant leadership. The Scrum Master selflessly provides servant leadership to the development team, product owner and the whole organization. By serving these entities, the Scrum Master can create a high performing team, a valuable product and an efficient organization that is able to meet business objectives and keep customers happy.  Though the term Scrum Master may be deceptive, the Scrum Master is not a master of the team but in fact serves the team in order to ensure smooth functioning and productivity.Servant Leadership and Scrum Master Roles of Servant LeadershipServant leadership:The day-to-day activity of a Scrum Master involves servant leadership. Servant leadership in a scrum team involves performance planning, coaching, helping the team self- organize, resolving conflicts through conflict management, removing obstacles that hinder progress and serving the team. The Scrum Master, while practicing servant leadership, helps the team grow and mature and become independent enough to make their own decisions. Servant leadership in Scrum is all about making the team self-reliant, so they can cope with the pressures of the role. As a servant leader the Scrum Master creates a high performing team, helps them become collaborative and high performing in order to achieve goals and meet the requirements of the customer.  Service to the Scrum Team: As a servant leader, the primary responsibility of the Scrum Master is to help the development team perform. They help the team perform to the best of their abilities by giving them an environment that is conducive to work in, encouraging them, guiding them and removing obstacles that may hinder progress. As a coach, the Scrum Master will guide the team on scrum processes and help them adhere to Agile values during the development of the product. The Scrum Master is responsible for the scrum team’s effectiveness, and they work tirelessly to ensure that the team is motivated, encouraged, creative and innovative. The Scrum Master through servant leadership helps the team improve Scrum practices which helps them become more productive and generate value. The Scrum Team’s role in motivating and helping the team comes through in the daily stand-up meetings that are arranged as part of the sprint. The Scrum Master encourages team members to share their grievances and progress made through the sprint. Team members can talk about obstacles that may be hindering their work and due cognizance will be taken up by the Scrum master to ensure that these obstacles are removed.  According to the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master helps the Development Team by: Coaching the team in becoming self-organized and cross-functional Helping the Scrum Team focus on creating high-value increments by removing impediments Helping the team deliver within the timeframe of the sprint Service to the Product Owner: The Scrum Master is a servant leader not just for the development team but also the Product Owner. While the Product Owner is primarily responsible for the product backlog, they cannot do this alone. The Scrum Master aids the development team and the Product Owner with effective product backlog management.The Scrum Master is involved at every stage of the product backlog grooming, helping the product owner with Scrum events, product planning and to identify backlog items along with the development team. The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner define the product vision to the team.   According to the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master helps the Product Owner by: Helping in Product Goal definition and Product Backlog management Helping the Scrum Team understand manage the Product Backlog items Setting up empirical product planning in complex environments and, Managing and facilitating stakeholder collaboration.Service to the Organization: The Scrum Master is a coach and motivator not just for the development team but goes beyond the team to spread the awareness of Scrum in the entire organization. Scrum Masters coach and help teams and departments understand Scrum and develop an Agile mind-set. Besides servant leadership to the team a Scrum Master is also involved in promoting the ideas and values of Scrum. An organization can get an agile mind-set only if the entire organization adopts Scrum and not just a few teams. This is where the Scrum Master comes in, helping other teams not involved with Scum to gain the Agile mind-set, through training and coaching. The Scrum Master is an Agile evangelist and promotes Scrum enterprise-wide.According to Scrum.org the Scrum Master serves the organization by: Leading, training, and coaching the organization in adopting Scrum Planning and advising Scrum implementations within the organization Coaching employees and stakeholders in the way Scrum works Helping stakeholders work with Scrum TeamsSome Servant-Leader Behaviours for every Scrum MasterBeing empathetic: This is the foremost personality trait required for anyone wanting to become a Scrum Master. Your empathy will shine through in your interactions with the team members and your dealings with the stakeholders. You should be able to see problems from the point of view of each party and work towards solving these problems. Caring: As a caring and empathetic Scrum Master, your team will feel free to approach you and share their concerns. Providing a listening ear will make you more approachable. You will be able to more clearly understand the impediments that are stopping project progress and work towards providing a solution.  Managing Conflicts: Not all team members will get along with each other and this can cause disruptions and problems within the team, lowering their productivity. As a Scrum Master you need to be great at conflict management, help others solve their problems, work with each other and create a high performing and harmonious team. Building relationships: You need to build a rapport with your team, the product owner and the stakeholders. This will help you communicate freely and help others approach you with their problems and issues. You need to build that relationship of trust and take everyone along on the journey of success.  Being ethical: Ethics play an important role in software development, especially since software now controls every aspect of our lives. The product created should be free of malice and fraud. The Scrum Master should guide the team in delivering the product at a value and standard that is expected and agreed upon with the stakeholder. There should not be any shortcuts or concessions made on the quality of the product delivered as this will affect not just the Scrum Master and the team’s reputation but will cause a dent in the reputation of the organization.   Conclusion  Servant leadership and the Scrum Master’s role is the backbone of Scrum. The Scrum Master as a servant leader re-emphasizes the values of Scrum and helps to enhance teamwork, collaboration, motivation and value. Under the able servant leadership of the Scrum Master, individual members and the team will grow, become more confident and help in delivering value.  
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Scrum Master – The Scrum Team’s Servan...

The term servant leader is synonymous with a Scrum... Read More

A Guide to Scaling Scrum

Scrum has been proven to work well for small teams. But the true benefits of Agile can only be reaped if Agile and Scrum are scaled at the enterprise level. However, this is easier said than done. According to statistics, 47% of Agile transformations are not successful. While this is a worrying trend, there are still hundreds of organizations who have got it right and are able to survive the competition by innovating faster, delivering value and adapting to changing markets. How are they doing it? By using scaled Scrum.There are several tools and frameworks available for scaling Scrum at the enterprise level. In this blog, we attempt to look at a few of these.  Scaling Scrum with NexusNexus is among the most popular frameworks for scaling Scrum. According to the Nexus Guide, “Nexus is a framework for developing and sustaining scaled product delivery initiatives. It builds upon Scrum, extending it only where absolutely necessary to minimize and manage dependencies between multiple Scrum Teams while promoting empiricism and the Scrum Values.” How is Nexus different from Scrum? Scrum defines three primary roles: The Product Owner, the Scrum Master and the development team. These three roles work together in one team.The Nexus framework consists of several Scrum teams that work together toward a common product goal and defines the Nexus Integration Team as an additional accountability.  Nexus helps to build on the values of Scrum and also solves the collaboration and dependency challenges that tend to occur between teams in Scrum.Benefits of using Nexus Nexus extends Scrum in the following ways:  Accountabilities: Nexus introduces the Nexus Integration Team, which consists of the Scrum Master, Product Owner, and members. This team is accountable for delivering a workable product at the end of each sprint.  Events: Nexus events aim to add to or supplement Scrum events and serve not just individual teams but also the Nexus Integration Team. The objective of a sprint is to achieve the Nexus sprint goal. Artifacts: Although the teams are different, within the Nexus framework they all work towards a single goal and follow a single product backlog. There’s a high amount of transparency and work is allocated to each team. The Nexus Integration TeamAccording to the Nexus Guide, “the Nexus Integration Team exists to coordinate, coach, and supervise the application of Nexus and the operation of Scrum so the best outcomes are derived.” The Nexus Integration Team or NIT comprises of the Scrum Master, the Product Owner and Nexus integration team members. There are generally three to nine Scrum teams working together in Nexus. All of them follow a single product backlog and work towards delivering a single product. The Nexus Integration Team forms an essential role within Nexus and is tasked with providing transparent accountability among the teams in Nexus.Product OwnerThe Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the product value and the work carried out in Nexus. Their primary task is to order and refine the product backlog. Being a member of the Nexus Integration Team, the product owner will work with all the Scrum teams in the Nexus Integration team. The product owner and the teams work towards better defining and refining the product backlog.Scrum MasterJust like in regular Scrum, the Scrum Master in the Nexus Integration Team is also responsible for ensuring that the Nexus framework is understood by everyone on the team as prescribed by the Nexus Guide.   MembersThe members of the Nexus Integration Team are the Scrum team members who aid the Scrum teams in adoption of tools and practices that will help the team and members deliver value at the end of each sprint that meets the definition of done. Nexus Integration Team membership should be considered more important than the individual Scrum Team membership and members should work towards first fulfilling their Nexus team responsibilities.What are the Events in Nexus?Nexus adds or augments the events as defined by Scrum. The Nexus event durations are like Scrum event durations and are guided by the Scrum Guide.  Nexus events consist of: Sprint- A Nexus sprint is the same as in Scrum, at the end of which a single increment is delivered.  Cross team refinement- The aim of Nexus is to enhance collaboration and reduce cross team dependencies. Cross team refinement helps to make dependencies and responsibilities more transparent. This makes it easier for Scrum teams within the Nexus to clearly identify and deliver their allocated tasks.  Nexus Sprint Planning- Nexus sprint planning will involve the participation of the Product Owner and concerned teams' members from each team. The purpose of the Nexus Sprint Planning is to assign and co-ordinate activities for a single sprint.  Nexus Daily Scrum- This is like the daily stand up in Scrum. Nexus daily scrum is used to identify any issues and track progress. Any issues are immediately prioritized and solved so that they do not hinder the work of the developers.  Nexus Sprint Review- This event is held at the end of sprints to provide feedback on the increment that has been built and on any future updates that have to be made. Nexus Sprint Retrospective- Like in Scrum, Nexus retrospectives are an important part of the project and are used to reflect on how quality and consistency can be improved.  Some Nexus ArtifactsNexus artifacts are the same as Scrum artifacts and when implemented correctly ensure transparency and value maximization. Every artifact is designed to give a commitment. For example, the product backlog is the artifact and its commitment is the product goal. Other artifacts and their commitments include: Nexus Sprint Backlog-Nexus Sprint Goal Integrated Increment-Definition of Done Along with Nexus, LeSS is another popular framework for scaling agile.  Scaling Scrum with LeSS The Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) framework is an offering from Atlassian and is a framework for scaling Scrum to multiple teams that are working on the same product. The idea behind LeSS is to start with a single Scrum team as defined in the Scrum Guide and then replicate it to multiple teams who are working on a single product. LeSS has earned the label of being “barely sufficient” as it is a simple framework to apply and uses the basic concepts of Scrum to scale.  How do Sprint Planning meetings in LeSS work?  LeSS generally carries out sprint planning in two stages. Sprint Planning One focuses on selecting items that are of topmost priority, solving unanswered issues and defining the sprint goal. The Sprint Planning Two is like the sprint plan of regular Scrum and focuses on creating a plan of action for getting things done.  Daily meeting  The daily Scrum meeting in LeSS is similar to how it is done in normal single Scrum teams and involves team members discussing the work accomplished and the work to be done during the day. It is a time-boxed meeting and helps teams address any issues that may be hindering work.   Sprint Delivery Meeting (Review) The sprint review meeting is an essential part of LeSS and helps teams and stakeholders review the product built during the sprint and suggest changes and new ideas.   Retrospective The retrospective for LeSS is similar to one team Scrum. These retrospectives held at the end of the sprint will help teams to reflect on the progress of tasks, and identify the obstacles that may hinder or impede the overall project.  Let’s take a look at some of the other frameworks that are used for scaling agile. Scaling Scrum with SAFe®The Scaled Agile Framework, SAFe in short, follows the principles of lean and agile and helps in scaling Scrum to the enterprise. It helps to manage alignment, collaboration, and delivery from multiple agile teams to ensure enterprise success. It systematically focuses on applying Scrum at each level of the enterprise, to maximize value and ensure a successful agile transformation.A successful SAFe adoption ensures end-to-end business agility with significant improvements in strategy, delivery, execution and business competencies. It helps organizations overcome competition and ensure innovative business solutions to gain customer trust and partnership. The SAFe framework is continuously improvised in order to help organizations cope with the digital age and ensure that business outcomes are delivered.Scaling Scrum with the Scrum@Scale frameworkAnother framework that allows organizations to implement Scrum at scale is the Scrum@Scale framework. This framework expands on the core principles of Scrum and helps to scale Scrum over a wide range of industries and sectors, ensuring customer satisfaction and creation of successful products. It promotes communication across all teams and departments, and optimizes resources, removes roadblocks and ensures creation of innovative products.A Final Word By driving Agile at the organizational level, companies can gain all the benefits of team-level Scrum at scale. More often than not the principles of team level Scrum are not sustainable at the enterprise level and the transformation fails. Tested and proven Agile scaling frameworks are now able to turn this around, and help organizations scale up the principles and practices of Scrum to become more adaptable, flexible and responsive. Professionals can master these frameworks and help their organization adopt the culture, mind-set and principles of Scrum and agile.  
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A Guide to Scaling Scrum

Scrum has been proven to work well for small tea... Read More