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I'm working in a scrum team (about 8 people) without a scrum master and we have one team member that has a non-development role (difficult to describe, not PO, not PM, not QA). This person doesn't really fit in, he should actually belong to a different department, but someone in management decided that's where he belongs.

Ideally he should not attend the daily but I think it would be also not good to exclude him, then he would be in a team without actually being a team member. My question is, does anyone have a valuable experience how to make him contribute to the daily in a meaningful manner? Just make him say as little as possible? He talks about stuff that nobody else is familiar with in the daily.

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    "He talks about stuff that nobody else is familiar with in the daily." - perhaps that is why he is on the team, to inject a fresh perspective? – Steve Jun 3 at 11:03
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    Are the tasks of that person in any way related to the development process of the team? What is he/she actually doing? – Doc Brown Jun 3 at 11:24
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    What do you mean by "non-developer"? In scrum, being part of the development team doesn't mean you're a developer, i.e., a coder. It could be someone from design, analytics, etc. They're someone with skills needed for the team to create the product increment. – Karl Brown Jun 3 at 15:01
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    Umm....what DOES he do? Why isn't he valuable to the team? We really don't have enough details to say. – Keith Jun 3 at 17:47
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    Seek first to understand, then to be understood. If you have trouble understanding this team member's skillset or potential contributions, seek understanding. Ask the manager that put him there. Or ask the resource themself. – John Wu Jun 4 at 2:26
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I'm working in a scrum team (about 8 people) without a scrum master and we have one team member that has a non-development role (not PO, not PM).

This is, by definition, not Scrum. The "rules" to Scrum are laid out in the Scrum Guide. What you describe breaks a few of those rules, and if you aren't following the rules, you shouldn't call what you do Scrum. Note that it's OK to not do Scrum - it's just confusing and can lead to you getting advice that's less than helpful.

This person doesn't really fit in, he should actually belong to a different department, but someone higher in the hierarchy decided that's where he belongs.

Not only does this break the rules of Scrum, but even more fundamental values and principles of Agile Software Development. Teams should be self-organizing - people should not be forced onto a team where they cannot contribute.

Ideally he should not attend the daily but I think it would be also not good to exclude him, then he would be in a team without actually being a team member.

It sounds like he's not a team member. The team is a group of people working toward common goals and objectives. This individual is working toward a different set of goals and objectives. Perhaps it makes sense from a people management perspective to group him with the others on this team, but it doesn't make sense from a project management or team organization perspective.

My question is, does anyone have a valueable experience how to make him contribute to the daily in a meaningful manner? Just make him say as little as possible? He talks about stuff that nobody else is familiar with in the daily.

If he's not contributing to the team, he shouldn't come. Give the guy an extra hour a week to do whatever he needs to do. If he does end up working with the team, then he can come for coordination and collaboration. Plus, you free up the team from needing to process information that is not relevant to their work, giving them more time.

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    I knew I might kick off discussions like that. I am not denying any of that, my point is (as stated in my question) I'm not the scrum master nor in charge. I've taken issue with the way tour daily gets out of hand every day and have merely been assigned the task to come up with some guideline to make it suck less. I myself am new to the team, The main reason for him to be there is he is remotely connected to what we're doing and has no other team or department to go. My point was, maybe other people might have experiences with that (e.g. technical writers in dev teams, happens sometimes) – DanDan Jun 3 at 19:31
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This is a pretty common occurrence in my experience and results from a misunderstanding of scrum/agile development.

This guy is in your team from a management perspective, in that they report into the same line manager, but not in your team from a 'what are we all working on together this week?' perspective.

There is a tendency for companies to interpret Scrum/Agile as 'a way of managing a team' rather than 'a way of managing a project'

People not involved in the project should not attend/speak at the daily scrum/standup etc.

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    +1 with one addition - unless they are working on items on the board – Liath Jun 3 at 12:36
  • Items on the board that arent part of the project? I agree it can get involved. if only the op had been more specific – Ewan Jun 3 at 12:38
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    No sorry, if they are contributing work to items which the team is working on then they should attend/speak. But agree, if there's no cross over don't add their work to the board to give the team more to listen to – Liath Jun 3 at 12:41
  • If they're not involved in the project, they shouldn't be in the team at all. – Erik Jun 3 at 15:01
  • @Erik: I agree, but welcome to the real world. – Doc Brown Jun 3 at 15:31
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First of all, what you're doing is probably not scrum. The scrum master is a required role because he has different responsibilities such as getting impediments out of the way. What you have here is an impediment, and if you don't have a scrum master whose role is accepted by the ouside organization (including higher-ups) you're going to have a hard time fixing the situation.

That said, if your organization insists on doing "scrum" with a self-organizing team, you have to do it within the team. Talk to the person about their role in the development process, about other's roles, about the purpose of the daily scrum and how he/she can provide valuable contributions. If they don't see and don't understand how they can further the team progress they will stay an impediment.

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My question is, does anyone have a valueable experience how to make him contribute to the daily in a meaningful manner?

There is no hard and fast rule in scrum that this person must attend, since there are no rules about people who don't contribute to a project. That is up for your team to decide. If he is technically on the team due to a company hierarchy but not actually contributing to the team goals, there's no reason for him to attend the morning scrum.

However, from a human perspective, if he is a co-worker that you care about, there's nothing wrong with him attending.

If you decide he should attend the daily scrum, he should contribute exactly the same as everyone else:

  • describe what he did yesterday
  • describe what he is doing today
  • mention any roadblocks

Ultimately, what the scrum guidelines say is that this is completely up to the team. Your team needs to decide what works best for the team.

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    Technically the hard and fast rule of Scrum is that if this person is not contributing to the backlog, he's not on the team. There are three defined roles; this person is none of them, so not on the team according to Scrum, regardless of what management says. – Erik Jun 3 at 15:05
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I do not see a real problem. I work on a team with only developers and at noon when we do the stand-up, half of them talk about stuff I do not understand. It is for those topics that I am familiar with that I am listening, I might be able to add or prevent something.

If he talks in too much detail for you, you can ask him to be more concise and/or keep it simple for you. If it is all abracadabra to all developers, he could do a knowledge session for you all to let you in on what he is doing and clarify why it matters. You would have to be interested though.

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Establish what the daily stand-up is for, and I see basically two flavours of a daily stand-up: - every single member of the team reports on what they have done yesterday. - everyone gives updates on the progress on the team's backlog

I strongly prefer the second version because it keeps the updates relevant to everyone. A scrum team typically has a shared backlog that is owned by every single team member, so if something is on the team backlog updates on that item automatically are relevant. It also shouldn't be necessary to give an update, just to justify ones hours, which often happens in the first type (e.g. "I spend the 2 hours on a performance meeting, and another 2 hours on interviews" are usually irrelevant for the teams progress.

If you have a team backlog you can reiterate that updates should be only about changes on the team backlog (or lack thereof). So if all the tasks on the backlog are development tasks and you have a single copy writer in your team, the person might just not have anything 90% of the time.

  • The canonical stand-up approach seems to be: what I did yesterday, what I'm doing today and what blockers I have. – Robbie Dee Jun 4 at 10:24
  • I don't think that is "canonical", even though I see this interpretation a lot. Wikipedia says for the first question "What did I do yesterday that helped the development team meet the sprint goal?" The second question accordingly. The part "to meet the sprint goal" is a very important difference in my eyes. – Helena Jun 4 at 19:56
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I'm a devops engineer and I attend the scrums of two development teams once a week each. Each of the other devops engineers are similarly "embedded". I don't participate in the scrum or work their backlog, but I am able to ask questions and am available there to answer questions they might have. And, of course, I obtain and provide information that helps both the particular development team and the devops team. It's a valuable communication opportunity.

Since you don't say what this person's job is even after being pressed, there's little concrete information I can give. But my advice is that if it's fitting, consider whether the type of participation I described might be useful in your situation.

  • People such as yourself and other roles like DBA and Build Manager used to be termed "chickens" but the pig/chicken fable seems to have fallen out of favour somewhat... – Robbie Dee Jun 4 at 10:26
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What you describe is actually pretty common. People are sometimes asked to attend a standup for a variety of reasons - information gathering, reporting, customer involvement, departmental contact etc.

My question is, does anyone have a valuable experience how to make him contribute to the daily in a meaningful manner? Just make him say as little as possible? He talks about stuff that nobody else is familiar with in the daily.

This would seem to be the problematic part. There should be rules (established by the scrum master) about what is on topic and what should be taken offline outside the meeting.

Leaving aside why there isn't a scrum master, it seems the person in question just needs a little gentle guidance as to what can and can't be discussed. Perhaps they're just feeling under pressure to contribute?

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