We are coaching a new team to use Scrum, and a question has popped up about who owns the various meetings in Scrum. Many people think that because the ScrumMaster is responsible for the process, they own all the Scrum meetings. If that’s you, just pause and go on a thought journey with me.

One of our favourite sayings is:

You do it, you own it

The ScrumMaster is a facilitator in the majority of Scrum meetings – but does that make them an owner? If the ScrumMaster is the one scheduling all the meeting and taking notes etc – then they own the meeting. Scrum is not the ScrumMasters process. They are merely there to guide and coach the teams and Product Owners. Let me explain each meeting.

Backlog Grooming (or Backlog Refinement)

The outcome of this meeting is that the team has a better understanding of requirements and that stories are sized. The person who needs the estimates, and will be explaining the requirements is the Product Owner. The ScrumMaster ensures everyone is on the same page, checks the time box and perhaps structures the meeting – this is a facilitative role. The ScrumMaster should not be contributing to the content of the meeting.

Sprint Planning Part 1

This meeting is to check understanding and make a commitment for the sprint. Once again, the Product Owner is really interested in this outcome. The ScrumMaster is a facilitator.

Sprint Planning Part 2

This meeting is for the team to design and chat about how they are going to do each story. This meeting is for the team. The ScrumMaster can facilitate this, or they can ask the team to facilitate this. However, unless someone in the team has facilitation experience, I would suggest this be the ScrumMaster.

Daily Scrum

This is for the team to checkin with each other and their commitment. So the team own it. The ScrumMaster is there as a facilitator only, and occasionally should let the team do their own facilitation.

Sprint Review

This meeting is about the product/project and where you are as a team with the release. The Product Owner cares about this and therefore owns this meeting. The ScrumMaster facilitates. And remember facilitation means not adding any content!

Sprint Retrospective

This meeting is about the process of the team. It is for the team and should be owned by them. The ScrumMaster is the impartial facilitator.

Meetings

Should the facilitator or owner for any meeting not be available (maybe they are off sick or on training) then decide at the start of the meeting who will play which role. It is not a good idea for a facilitator (who should be impartial) to own and run a meeting.

My personal preference is to have the owner of the meeting schedule the meeting and NOT the ScrumMaster. Let the people who need the meeting own it. If you’re a ScrumMaster and you currently schedule all the meetings, explain why you don’t want to do this anymore and ask someone else to schedule the meetings important to them. Remember “You do it, you own it!”.

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