The Agile Mindset Blog

Common Mistakes in the Daily Scrum

Common Mistakes in the Daily Scrum

Of all the Scrum meetings, the daily Scrum is the one I am most likely to see done out-and-out wrong. I think this stems from the fact that many people learned what to do in the daily Scrum, but never learned what a daily Scrum is supposed to produce.

The purpose of the daily Scrum is work coordination. It is a meeting for the team to figure out their work for the day. You could liken it to a huddle in football; a quick get-together where the team says:

  • “What did everyone get done yesterday?”
  • “What’s everybody doing today?”
  • “Does anybody need anything they don’t have?”

When I observe a daily Scrum, I am looking for who is doing the talking and who they are talking to. What I should see is the team doing the talking, and primarily to each other. What I usually see, however, is the team “reporting” to the ScrumMaster. In doing so, they basically turn that person into a project manager.

ScrumMasters are included in the daily Scrum primarily to listen for impediments. They can also facilitate, but you will find that a good self-managing team needs very little help doing their daily Scrum.

Product Owners should also be included in the daily Scrum. It is an important part of achieving transparency because, the sooner the Product Owner knows if things are not going as planned or there are blocking issues, the sooner she/he can do “expectation management” with the stakeholders.

Here is a little assignment for the ScrumMasters reading this: in your next daily Scrum, see if you can participate by saying only one sentence:

“Who wants to start?”

Then fade to the background. If your team is used to reporting to you, they may struggle a little bit in the beginning as they learn how to talk to each other. But they will eventually get the hang of it.



  • Angela, your observations are spot-on. I see this happening with far too many teams. What's so disappointing is that we ScrumMasters are so often to blame for enabling this dysfunction, when we *should* be the people coaching teams towards more self-sufficiency. There must be a meme in the air - recently I was musing on exactly the same type of behavior, which drove me to see if I could actually measure it. The result was a LinkedIn post that very much reinforces your point. I call it the "a Circle or a Wheel?" :
    7/24/2018 6:55:55 AM Reply
  • If I feel a team member is reporting to me, I turn my head, sometimes my entire body around. I tell them in their early training with me that I might do this if I feel they are reporting to me or anyone in the room. This simple clue triggers them to ensure they are speaking to and with their team
    7/16/2018 12:05:34 PM Reply
  • I was so happy, at my last firm, when I was out for some back issues: The team continued to meet for several sprints with no ScrumMaster. They emailed me impediments to handle by email and forward to other managers. While recovering from surgery I would join the meeting on the phone and they were self organized and just clicking along. Great Stuff!
    7/14/2018 7:00:30 AM Reply

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