You are a Scrum Master. The part-time, shared team members (devops, designer) are not joining the team events. What would you do?

Imagine you are a Scrum Master and your team consists of the core team members, and shared, part-time team members, e.g. designers or dev ops. Unfortunately, shared, part-time team members are not joining team meetings. What would be one of the first things you would do?

This question will be part of the local Agile pub quiz on 11-Apr, where we’ll compare our responses with responses from valued agilists like Mike Cohn, Jon Kern, and Dominika Bula.
You can find their bios here

and the registration for an event here

So why was this question published as a forum topic now? Are we allowed to provide our answers here? Does it somehow help the organizers with preparations for the quiz? Or is this just FYI?

Good question @stanley. We decided to publish it before the quiz so

  • people can start thinking about it and discussing it,
  • we can get inspiration on which direction to take the discussion during the quiz,
  • teaser aiming to increase curiosity for people considering the attendance for the quiz, so they’ll register for an event.

With this said, you can share your thoughts right away :slight_smile:

I would question whether the team is reminded of the agenda of the upcoming team activity. The label of the meetings (like “team activity” or even “sprint review”) is an umbrella term and doesn’t reflect how different each instance is. I myself used to participate in a lot of meetings that didn’t need me at all, because my presence was requested on principle - huge waste of energy and motivation.

Before a meeting starts, the facilitator should remind the whole team what is the agenda of the meeting, so every member can decide whether they need to come by themselves and whether they need someone outside the usual participants (like devops or a designer).

For example our Sprint review consists of 2 parts:

  1. we review the unfinished issues - this requires people who work on these specific issues
  2. we close the finished issues and write notes for Change log on them - this requires people who worked on these specific issues + the person who will write our Change log for the release

Each of the 2 parts might require slightly different subset of our team, and in case we are not closing anything the Change log person is not needed at all. So before we start the sprint review, I remind the whole team on Slack what is going to happen on the meeting and which issues are the agenda.

Rethinking and phrasing the agenda is not as cheap as saying “It’s sprint review, you should all be there!”, but it is way cheaper than holding hostage expensive people who have no part in the meeting.

EDIT: So in this answer I was trying to point out that the meetings are often badly designed and the expensive people might choose to miss it to avoid risk of wasting time. I will also add here a note from my answer below:

I would attend the activity with the people that are able to join and then collect the missing input individually.

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I don’t even have to imagine it - this is exactly the situation in my team :slight_smile: Our DevOps partner is actually shared for three teams - so no way for DevOps partner to join all the ceremonies ( for three teams ). Only regular meeting I asked DevOps partner to join always (if possible ) is a planning session, as I want her to know what is the scope of the work for upcoming sprint we are committing to + review with Devs if is there anything we might need from our DevOps partner in a new sprint.

For a such a meeting like Refinement - usually we have an agenda aka list of stories to be refined from PO in advance and developers in most of the cases are able to define, whether there might be some requirements/action for our DevOps partner too. If so, I ask DevOPS partner to join the refinement - if DevOps partner can’t make it , we leave a notes for her or recording of session is another option as well + we create a JIRA card for our DevOPS partner. In case there is any open questions or clarifications from DevOPS side , we can still discuss offline. Most important thing for me is, that not having a DevOps partner present on a meeting is not causing delays or impediments and all the actions are clear and ready till next planning.

To be honest, this is a way we work in my teams like last two years ( been working with several DevOps partners ) - but the fact that DevOps partner is not joining every meeting isn’t something I would flag as a problem. Yeah, it makes a thing a bit difficult to organize - and perhaps me as a SM’s have to make additional effort sometimes, but I deal with that fact quite well I would say :tipping_hand_man:

Btw. would be great to ask a same question a DevOPS partners ( or designers, or architects - anyone beyond a SM team ) , what are they feelings, observations and experiences , working with a teams but not being present on meetings :upside_down_face:


This. As a PO I often need an input from our stakeholder, which is often too busy to attend the team activities in full scope. What I do is schedule a private session with him in the evening, update him on where we are and collect his input.

So the good answer to the original question would be that I would attend the activity with the people that are able to join and then collect the missing input individually. At the end of the day it should all be about issue tickets containing everything we need, and the input can be collected in other ways than group meetings.

The bonus fact I would add here is that team activities are hard to moderate, sometimes impossible - so in some cases I am happier to collect the input individually, even if it takes few rounds.

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