[Agile Guide] – Rotating Responsibility for Scrums and Retrospectives

For those ScrumMasters who have started a new job or worked with a new client, taking the reigns and leading some of the standard meetings can be a challenge.

Hopefully there are only positive stories to go around, but sometimes a new ScrumMaster enters into a team that has been well established and set in its ways. Sometimes, a team has no idea what a daily Scrum meeting or Retrospective Meeting is.

A quick reminder of the Daily Scrum:

  1. About 15 minutes
  2. Everyone stands
  3. Everyone shares three things: What they accomplished yesterday. What they will work on today. Any blockers or impediments they have.
  4. Only developers and people involved with development may speak.
  5. Product Owners and other Stakeholders can stay silent.

A quick reminder of a Retrospective Meeting:

  1. It is a meeting to review what went well (celebrated) during the last development cycle and what can be improved.
  2. It happens after every sprint.It includes the entire team.
  3. It is a safe haven of feedback of any kind (as long as it’s tactful and nice).
  4. It needs the participation of every single person.
  5. It needs a good facilitator who can stay out of the conversation and maintain the flow of ideas and thoughts.

In most cases the ScrumMaster will always lead the Daily Scrum and Retrospective Meeting. But this need not always be the case.

David Bland has a very solid article on “Rotating Team Roles” when doing these two types of meetings. What he means by this is that a different person should lead these meetings every time. His reasons for this are very good:

  1. It gets the entire team involved.
  2. It opens up new channels for communication.
  3. It builds trust between the ScrumMaster and developers (When he helps them prepare for the meetings and answering questions).
  4. It gives different leaders of the Retrospectives different techniques for leading the meetings.

He reminds us that we need to do this in cycles using the ScrumMaster as the example first, and then assigning a different leader next, etc.

What a great way to increase participation and collaboration!

Read the full article here.

15 Replies to “[Agile Guide] – Rotating Responsibility for Scrums and Retrospectives”

  1. Great post! What’s missing in my opinion is maintenance and acting on the impediments list.

    When Scrum was created one essential part of the ‘Deming cycle’ (Plan do check act) was separated into an on part of the Scrum-framework. The ‘act’ became the impediments list. Assuming that removing impediments is the biggest problem for software development organisations, I think Scrum practitioners should include the impediments list more in their development processes. The daily scrum is more about personal blockers and a short meeting not suited to reflect and act on general impediments. Neither is it the Scrum master’s responsibility to collect and remove impediments, he is not a project manager. My suggestion would be to handle Deming’s “check and act” in the retrospective as a team, for example the last point on the agenda should be the impediments list.

    In practice this is what I recommend teams to do in the retrospective. Update the impediments list, separate it into things you can handle yourself in the team and those you need to report to someone else in the organisation. Secondly, collect action points based on impediments, where specific people have taken responsibility to act upon (ideally remove the impediment). Update these action points in the retrospective, as a team follow up on old one and assign new ones.

    Hope this makes sense and many greetings from an agilist in Sweden!

    1. Try this: saying “Adjust” for “A” in the PDCA cycle.

      I like to say “Adjust” in lieu of “Act” in PDCA cycles. It highlights the distinction between Do and Act: To “do” is to execute on patterns; To “adjust” is to change those patterns. This seems particularly appropriate in an agile context, and it is quite helpful for newcomers to Deming/Shewhart/SPC (statistical process control) terminology. It gives a more accurate nuance.

      BTW, Deming called them Shewhart cycles πŸ˜‰ acknowledging Walter Shewhart as his source. Great stuff, guys!

  2. In the daily scrum/standup/roundup pattern, I like to encourage an optional fourth thing to share: Any lessons learned?

    Often, there may be “oops!” or “aha!” moments. Those may surface anyway. However, I have found it is good practice to include that point in my prompts when coaching a team. That has the effect of assuring the knowledge is shared so others may benefit immediately, moving the whole team forward faster/better.

    You could call it a micro-retrospective. πŸ˜‰ It’s just a daily hint at one of the five questions I suggest in retrospectives.

      1. I use five prompting questions for retrospective exercises.

        A brief intro and credits are in order. The first 4 Q’s are from Norm Kerth’s outstanding book, “Project Retrospectives: A Handbook for Team Reviews” 2001, Dorset House (www.dorsethouse.com/books/pr.html) Although Norm suffered serious head injuries a dozen years ago (please see http://www.processimpact.com/norm_kerth.html), Norm and his web site persist, and the essence is shared at Retrospectives.com, see http://www.retrospectives.com/pages/RetrospectiveKeyQuestions.html. While Norm focused on “Project” retrospectives at the outset, his approach scales to iterations, sprints, cycles, and whatever. I found the fifth question in an e-newsletter by Steve Rakitin in June 2005, no longer accessible at http://www.swqual.com/newsletter/vol2/no6/vol2no6.html. Waybackmachine.org found it (last updated 04-Dec-2006)

        Here then, are all five retrospective prompts:
        1. What did we do well, that if we don’t discuss we might forget?
        2. What did we learn?
        3. What should we do differently next time?
        4. What still puzzles us?
        5. What do we need to discuss in more detail?

        But first, be sure to read and share the “Prime Directive” http://retrospectives.com/pages/retroPrimeDirective.html

        Enjoy and prosper!

  3. There is some debate that what I’m proposing, rotating the facilitation aspects of the ScrumMaster role, is not Scrum. Needless to say I know teams rotating the entire role, not just facilitation of Daily Standups and Retrospectives, but I digress…

    Anyways I’m curious as to what you all have to say about that. I tend to be rather progressive in that I feel as though getting team members out of their comfort zones to facilitate Scrum ceremony can open their eyes a bit and make the more well rounded players.


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