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Scrum Master: How to run Scrum Meetings with a Team?

Introduction

Anton Cherkasov

Anton Cherkasov

Anton is a founder of Focus, which is a team management platform. He is also a writer in HackerNoon, The Startup, Good Audience, and other media. Previously Anton has worked in Wildberries (#1 eCommerce store in Russia). He is falling in love with growth hacking, product management, and football.


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Scrum

Scrum Master: How to run Scrum Meetings with a Team?

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There is a focus on high-quality of product development in Scrum methodology. That’s why scrum meetings have high priority and run by a scrum master. The main goal of the scrum meeting is team synchronization. 

Who is a scrum master?

The better definition of a scrum master role is “servant leader”. 

Scrum master’s goal is to help a team increase efficiency by:

  • Solving the problems that are discussed in the scrum meetings
  • Learning. A scrum master has the crucial role of onboarding new members into the team
  • Motivation. The experienced scrum master creates a feeling of belonging. They highlight something valuable for each team member to take away after scrum meetings.
  • Asking the right questions. How to do better what we are doing well right now? What kind of processes doesn’t add value to our product? 

A scrum master is responsible for the development velocity and time scales of launching products. 

Also, a scrum master together with the product owner and team members plans the sprint that the team will do. Jeff Sutherland, the author of the book “The Scrum Book”, says that a scrum master is the head of the team.

Scrum book by Jeff Sutherland

Ideal scrum master

Some teams do experiments and create a monthly scrum master rotation where everyone can become a scrum master for a month. However, if you take a look at the list of scrum master skills and responsibilities, you quickly figure out that it’s not a good way to organize the work.

Ideal scrum master skills:

  • Encourage discussion – scrum, retrospectives, and sprints will not be effective without open discussion inside the team. The goal of a scrum master is to encourage this kind of communication using all types of methods and tools for it (company’s Wiki, messengers, project management software, etc). 
Comments in Focus to encourage discussion
  • Removing barriers to successful project completion – create and improve communication methods (for instance, create team knowledge base), complete daily routine jobs for team traction (update process diagrams, etc), solve team members problems after scrum meetings.
  • To be a scrum evangelist – scrum master understands scrum better than anyone in the team, he/she teaches people and helps to get the best results from the methodology.
  • Deliver project vision – this skill complements the motivation role, this is especially crucial in long-term projects with a lot of sprints.
  • Solve conflicts – the truth is born in an argument, but conflicts create hurt and aggression. A scrum master prevents toxic communication and conflicts to build constructive criticism.  

What is a scrum meeting?

Scrum meeting or daily standups are a crucial tool of Scrum methodology. It’s a daily meeting, which is moderated by a scrum master and usually runs in the mornings. 

During daily standups, team members talk or write down answers to three simple questions:

  • What did you do yesterday?
  • What are you going to do today?
  • What was your blocks or obstacles?

Scrum meetings help to synchronize the teamwork and much more:

  • Align the team and project vision – everyone understands how the project is moving and sees that the amount of obstacles has diminished;
  • Set actual goals and response for the status of the project;
  • Build the team – people learn to hear other employees and understand their goals and motives;
  • Find out the best solution for the job.

Differences between scrum standup and meetup?

Standups (or scrum meetings) and meetups have different meanings despite similar names. A meetup is an event with unfamiliar people who are interested in the meetup theme. People in daily standups know each other pretty well because they are working in one company.  

Other differences between scrum standups and meetup:

Scrum standupsMeetup
ParticipantsA scrum master, team members who participate in the current sprint, product owner, other members who could be on the standup only as a listenerOrganizers, people who are interested in the meetup topic and don’t work in one company.
Duration~15 minutes1-2 hours
PlaceWorkspaceThe venue where participants can talk to each other
OrganizersScrum masterThe user of special platforms like meetup.com
Type of eventRigid structure with 3 questionsSoft structure with the presentation, questions, networking, etc.
Amount of participantsThe optimal amount is 5-7No limits

5 usual scrum mistakes 

  1. Scrum meetings are only for the scrum master: as the scrum master leads the meeting, a participant might look only to the scrum master and answer him while other members take care of their deals. It’s not a productive environment and the scrum master’s goals are to build connection “speaker – other members.”
  2. Daily standups are for planning – the new task might be born on the daily standup and there is a huge desire to start discussing it right away in the scrum meeting. Don’t do it. Run 15-min daily standup and then create a new meeting for discussing the new tasks.
  3. Daily standups are for technical questions – one of the participants might know about the technical side more than others. Focusing the discussion on technical details doesn’t help you to achieve scrum goals. It takes the meeting in the wrong direction.
  4. Scrum meeting is not run on the workspace – the ideal place for running daily standup is near scrum board (board of tasks or Gantt chart) because it allows the team to better understand current statuses and traction. 
  5. Scrum meeting with 2 questions – using only 2 questions “What did I do yesterday?” and “What am I going to do today?” People don’t like to talk about problems and blockers, especially in the group meeting, not 1-on-1 meetings. However, it’s crucial to discuss problems in the scrum meetings to close the sprint successfully.

How to run scrum meetings?

A team runs scrum meetings every day. That’s why it is also called daily scrum or daily standups. Meetings are usually run in the same place and have a time limit, which is 15 minutes. This limit helps to stop participants from discussing insignificant themes and allows standups to be more productive.

During a daily standup, each member answers 3 questions:

  • What did you do yesterday?
  • What are you going to do today?
  • What’re blockers do you have?
Focus standups
Standups at Focus

Focus on the status of the jobs allows the team to align and understands how much the team must do to finish the sprint. If the developer says “I am going to finish the module for the database today”, the other participants will figure out results the next day.

Problems are a scrum master’s responsibility. He/she chooses when to solve it – either in the scrum meeting if it’s a small issue or if it’s something more significant a note will be added to their schedule. 

Usual obstacles that team members have:

  • A broken laptop
  • The team member hasn’t got the software that he or she needs for work
  • One of the departments asks a member to work on another problem for a couple of days
  • A member needs help with software installation

How to run a scrum meeting correctly

  1. Limit the total amount of participants up to 6 people on the daily standup. If the team has more people in the project then it’s better to divide members into several groups where each of the groups has its own scrum master. Usually, groups are created by jobs such as the Quality Assurance group, Engineers group, etc. 
  2. Solve urgent problems – some problems are critical and you should solve them asap. It’s better to run the meeting without a 15-minute limit to allow for the top-priority problem. A scrum master decides how long your meeting should be. 
  3. Write down daily scrum rules – they should be clear for everyone and be easily accessible (for example, rules are on the board).
  4. Stop personal discussions – talking about last night’s football game, problems with parking or new premiers are taking time away from your 15-min meeting. The scrum master’s goal is to focus the team on the right conversation and avoid digressing with additional topics.
  5. Create a productive format – for example, if you run lengthy meetings, start doing standups. If participants aren’t initiated, use gamification – for example, suggest to a team member, who answered 3 questions, to throw the ball to a random participant who will be the next speaker.
  6. Ask additional questions if it’s necessary – if a team member hasn’t verbalized any problems, ask him or her “How confident are you in completing this task today?” This question helps participants to better understand their statuses and presents an opportunity for team members to clarify objectives and feel confident in their assigned tasks. 
  7. Run meetings at the same time – do it even if half of the participants haven’t turned up. It teaches them discipline and shows that it’s important for you to run daily meetings. That’s why a scrum master can’t be late.
  8. Appreciate participants at the end of daily standups – it puts your team in a good mood first thing in the morning and increases motivation. Don’t turn this rule into a formality.

*Gamification is using game mechanics (raising experience, fights with monsters, the game field, etc) in non-game processes like work, life, study.

The summary

A scrum master is required for team coordination.

It’s not even about observing scrum rules, it’s all about the need to have an advocate of project goals in scrum meetings. The correspondence of the core product architecture, team building and creating a productive atmosphere in the company with constant growth are the main jobs of a scrum master.

Scrum meetings are a great tool for measuring statuses and project promotion. Daily standups not only help the team to stay in sync but also help to solve problems, are a place to learn to set goals and to be responsible for the overall result in front of the group.

Anton Cherkasov

Anton Cherkasov

https://usefocus.co/

Anton is a founder of Focus, which is a team management platform. He is also a writer in HackerNoon, The Startup, Good Audience, and other media. Previously Anton has worked in Wildberries (#1 eCommerce store in Russia). He is falling in love with growth hacking, product management, and football.

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