The Scrum Master Daily

Like most Scrum Masters my work is self- propelled. Other than ceremonies, minimal documentation and the few backlog admin tasks much of my work is preventative and proactive.  That means discipline.  Discipline, at least for me, is in the form of my Scrum Master Daily, a checklist that walks me through the priorities for my current project and team. Its my daily guidepost on how to navigate what my team needs.  Put simply, its a checklist that fits the needs of the current team for the current project.

Every Team, Every Project is Different

Most of the Scrum Masters I’ve met will tell you that every project, and every team has different needs and ‘tender spots’ where blocks often appear.  No one formula on how to be the team’s conscience exists.  I usually take the first four weeks of a new project to develop my Daily.  It gives me time to understand the appropriate priorities and needs for that client, team and scope.  As with most things agile let it iterate.  The important thing is that you are consciously thinking about the priority of your time and attention as a Scrum Master.  This emphasizes the value Agile places on all the sub headers I have in my sample list below.   I pop applicable ‘to do’s’ into this list throughout the day and then revisit it when I have time in the priority its laid out.

My current Scrum Master Daily looks like this

  • Scheduling
    • Reschedule the communication plan circle round meeting
  • Blocks
    • Red phone consulting SOW to unblock developer
    • Quote for mobile device testing – lack of clarity on providers capabilities
    • Homepage content – need alignment between Product Owner and Strategic Marketing
  • Face to Face
    • Cross Team:
      • Confirm the cross team BA and designer working session partner team’s Scrum Master
      • Confirm cross site user interactions with partner team
    • By Team member:
      • BW: Loop BA back into workflow after returning from vacation
      • BR: UX designer transition back into our team
      • JV: Cross team design transition chat
      • KT: Encourage user-story and user feedback related involvement
      • NV: Circle round with Developers on the results of Friday’s CMS meeting
      • AL: Follow up with QA on the coverage plan for cross-team vacations
  • Take it To The Team:
    • Do we need to re-visit the card sort?  Were the right people involved?
    • How do we want to establish page vision? By section? Page? Using User Stories?
  • Planning
    • Backlog Grooming
    • Coaching Research
    • Who is going to handle HTML and CSS after launch?
  • Product Owner Support
  • Cross Team Support
    • Look at the URL strategy document. Are we in alignment?  Who owns executing this?
    • Design alignment across teams. We need a person or a process to ensure the user has a consistent experience
  • Grow
    • Read Coaching Agile Teams
    • Figure out the next step for NV and LM to learn Scrum Mastery
    • Review the diagrams on illustratedagile.com

Why I chose those checklist headers for my current team and project

1. Scheduling – My current team has calendar paralysis.  They actually fear their calendars and struggle to carve out and defend the time they have allocated to our project.  Not all of the team members are fully allocated.  This makes accurate and prompt schedule management a top priority.  I learned the hard way how frustration in this area could shut my team down.

2. Blocks – Blocks are what I consider a Scrum Master’s primary reason for being, both identifying and overcoming them.  Even if there are no specific blocks on my Daily I spend at least five full minutes thinking about where some may be hidden or going to talk to team members and dig deeper if they are acting shy about their blocks. Blocks are also best tackled first thing in the morning at this location because of crowded schedules of our non-team contributors.  I resolve, open a conversation, or push forward resolution right after I’m done scheduling in the morning.

3. Face to Face – I use this section to remind me to ask question face to face instead of email, even if it means a slight delay.  This section is also where I keep notes on where I’m trying to help or coach each team member.  I like to touch on my face to face topics before our 10 AM stand up so I try to get this out of the way early.  Often things don’t get crossed off this list but revisited.

4. Planning – Anyone who tells that Agile lacks planning, or is ‘flying by the seat of your pants’ really doesn’t know Agile.  Planning is key and frequent.  This is my reminder to be proactive about facilitating planning, even if I”m not the primary contributor.

5. Product Owner Support – You’ll see my passion for a good Product Owner in many future posts.  I think its important for a Scrum Master to check in on the Product Owner and be sure they are getting what they need from the team.  Its also important to let your Product Owner know you have their back and see if there is anything you can help them accomplish.

6. Cross Team Support – I cover most of my face to face cross team interactions earlier in the day but if there is any work that needs done to support our partner team I address it here.  In my current project the teams are paired and will release near each other.

7. Grow – This is my reminder that I cannot stagnate. Period. Invest in my awareness and skills everyday if possible.

I hope this simple tool is as useful to you as it is to me.  The act of creating it and maintaining it helps keep me centered.  As a Scrum Master of a fast moving team a little consistency is welcome. Its a simple tool but one I wish had been recommended to me when I first began Agile.  If I had a new Scrum Master in front of me today I’d say,

“Read the Agile Principles, read the Scrum.org description of a Scrum Master and think, hard, on how your team operates.  Then simply build yourself a priority list of what you will focus on and live by it.  It can be improved but the important principle is that you are always holding what your team needs most as your top priority.”

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