Tales of the Bizarro Scrum – Scrum Master Canceling the Daily Scrum

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Scrum Master: “Team, tomorrow’s daily Scrum has been canceled as I have a doctor appointment and I can’t be there to run the meeting.”

A statement like this indicates a misunderstanding of the purpose of the Daily Scrum, the role of the ScrumMaster as well as the importance of sticking to a cadence.

A common misconception is that the Daily Scrum is a status meeting with the Developers reporting status to the ScrumMaster, Product Owner, managers, or stakeholders. The Daily Scrum is a daily planning meeting for the team by the team. It is an important step in Scrum’s inspect and adapt cycles. This time it is about inspecting and adapting the Sprint Backlog and planning out the day. The Developers created the initial Sprint backlog at the beginning of the Sprint in the Sprint Planning meeting. Every day, the team gets together to coordinate and plan out their activities for that day and ensure they are making forward progress towards the Sprint goal and adjusting the Sprint Backlog accordingly.

Whether the ScrumMaster is there or not is immaterial. The key players in this event are the Developers. They are there to come up with the plan for the day and see if adjustments need to be made to meet the Sprint goal, ask for help, volunteer to help, etc.

If the ScrumMaster is there, then they are there to facilitate the discussion by keeping it focused on the Sprint goal, staying within the timebox, making any impediments transparent, and ensuring forward progress is being made. Alternatively, any team member can help with that.

Finally, sticking to a cadence simplifies scheduling. Having to keep shifting, canceling, and rescheduling events based on people’s availability adds an unnecessary extra layer of complexity. It is ok if someone cannot make it to an event every once in a while, especially with an event that occurs daily. They can always get caught up afterward if needed.