Saturday, February 25, 2012

Leading from the rear

It is early in the morning at the office; your coffee is just kicking in; the team walks over to the Task Board. Small talk starts to build as you all gather; the Scrum Master calls for quiet and then answers the three questions. The team member on their right continues from there and so on.

Question: What is wrong with this picture?

Answer: The Scrum Master went first.

Day 14. The blind leading the blind.

At the start of the Stand Up the Scrum Master is planning their day from yesterday’s news.

When new teams are formed the Scrum Master should go first to model the behavior that they want the team members to emulate. However as the team matures it makes sense for the Scrum Master to switch to going last at the Stand Up. Aka Leading from the rear.

Going last gives the Scrum Master a chance to plan more effectively as they know about all of the current impediments and who/what needs help. This allows them to effectively support the team using the most up to date information available.

It also helps to promote a self-managing team, by pushing the expectation of starting the Stand Up to the team instead of them waiting for the Scrum Master to take the lead.

Photo by: Kris Anderson


  1. Hi Andrew,

    I am really happy that you are collaborating and contributing to the community. This post (and the others) are very thoughtful.

    I wanted to post on this one as it demonstrates that you are definitely down the right path. What you are describing is a shu-ha-ri model. Keep in mind that there are probably four emerging elements of shu-ha-ri at play in this scenario:

    1) yourself and your own growth
    2) the team as a whole and how they work together (forming, normal, storming, performing)
    3) each individual in the team and their understanding of Agile and its practices
    4) the Scrum Master who is having to additionally take on servant leadership.

    At the beginning the whole team is at shu, learning the practice of standups. Once they feel comfortable with the format then they begin to pickup the autonomous element.


    1. Thank you for the feedback, and extra analysis it is really appreciated.

      I am currently working on another blog post along the shu-ha-ri line regarding teams adjusting their Stand Ups as their collaborate approach changes.


    2. My next post regarding teams growing how they carry out Stand Ups is up 'User Story Centric Stand Ups'