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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

ScrumMasters Ought to Not Additionally Be Product Homeowners


Sooner or later, you’ve got most likely puzzled, can the product proprietor and the Scrum Grasp be the identical individual? Banish that thought!

You would not be the primary individual to attempt combining the Scrum Grasp position with the product proprietor position. Folks ask me on daily basis if they’ll mix the roles of product and ScrumMaster and provides each units of tasks to a single individual.

Typically, attempting to fill these two roles with one individual is a really dangerous concept. Completely different people ought to fill these two roles. To see why, let’s look again in historical past on the job of being a pirate ship captain.

The Pirates Knew: Completely different Abilities Require Completely different Folks

Professor Hayagreeva Rao wrote in Harvard Enterprise Assessment concerning the outcomes of asking his MBA college students to design the job of a seventeenth century pirate ship captain. His MBA college students designed a job that lumped collectively two areas of duty:

  • Star duties: These are the strategic work of deciding which ships to assault, commanding the crew throughout battle, negotiating with different captains, and so forth
  • Guardian duties: These are the operational work of distributing their pirate booty, settling battle, punishing crew members, and organizing take care of the wounded

The issue with this job description is that it mixes star and guardian duties. As Professor Rao factors out, there are only a few people who excel at each kinds of activity.

Star duties require risk-taking and entrepreneurship, whereas guardian duties require conscientiousness and consistency. A pirate captain good at figuring out ships to assault and at main his crew into battle would possible be bored by the executive trivialities of the guardian duties. 

To make issues worse, Professor Rao asserts that individuals are inclined to spend most of their effort on the duties they’re good at (and presumably take pleasure in). My expertise actually bears this out. Which means it’s even tougher to succeed when mixing roles that require totally different expertise.

Pirates solved the issue by having two leaders on every ship: a captain accountable for the star duties and a quartermaster basic accountable for the guardian duties. 

4 Causes Scrum Masters Ought to Not Additionally Be Product Homeowners

So what does the decidedly non-collaborative, non-agile setting of a pirate ship need to do with Scrum? Simply as pirate ships had separate people as captain and quartermaster basic, agile initiatives ought to have separate Scrum Masters and product homeowners. Let us take a look at 4 the explanation why the product proprietor and Scrum Grasp shouldn’t be the identical individual.

1. Scrum Masters and Product Homeowners Carry out Completely different Duties 

First, the roles of product proprietor and ScrumMaster have very totally different tasks (accountabilities), and due to this fact require very totally different expertise. Product homeowners carry out the star duties of creating a imaginative and prescient for a product, defining one of the best outcomes the product can create for its customers, and defining the options that may get it there. Scrum Masters carry out the guardian duties of defending a workforce from distractions and enhancing collaboration and focus. 

That’s, whereas a product proprietor is figuring out what to construct, the ScrumMaster helps the workforce work collectively to allow them to.

In some ways, this may be regarded as just like the concept a workforce’s programmer and tester ought to be separate. Positive, a very good programmer can check and a very good tester can program. However, separating these roles is normally a good suggestion.

2. Every Function Is a Full-Time Job on Its Personal

Second, it’s fairly possible that being both ScrumMaster or product proprietor requires full- or close to full-time consideration. Placing one individual in each roles on the similar time will nearly actually shortchange one of many two.

3. Product Homeowners and Scrum Masters Are inclined to Have Completely different Personalities

Third, there may be some overlap within the expertise and character traits that make good product homeowners and ScrumMasters. Nonetheless, the roles are totally different, and this can be very unlikely that somebody will have the ability to excel at each, particularly on the similar time.

4. A Pure Stress Exists Between Product Proprietor and Scrum Grasp roles

Lastly, a pure stress ought to exist between the product proprietor and Scrum Grasp roles. Though every is undeniably dedicated to the success of the product or system being developed, product homeowners naturally need extra, extra, extra.

ScrumMasters, then again, are extra attuned to the problems that may come up from a workforce beneath undue strain to ship extra, extra, extra.

When a steadiness exists between the roles, a product proprietor is free to comply with their pure tendency to ask for extra, secure with the peace of mind that the ScrumMaster will forestall pushing too exhausting.

Are There Ever Exceptions?

As with all rule, there are occasions when one individual can act as a Scrum Grasp and product proprietor on the similar time. I’ve encountered conditions during which the ScrumMaster and product proprietor have been the identical individual, and the place I felt that was applicable. A few of these have included small organizations that would not afford the posh of devoted or separate people.

Different conditions have been small groups who had began within the pursuit of a technical product proprietor’s imaginative and prescient. On such small groups, anybody character can have an outsized impact on the workforce, no matter any formal position performed by the individual.

Different exceptions have been ScrumMasters concerned in contract growth. It is not uncommon on such a mission for the “true product proprietor” to exist throughout the consumer asking for the software program to be constructed. Sadly, it is usually widespread for such true product homeowners to not need to be deeply concerned within the mission on the degree a Scrum workforce wants. It’s in these circumstances {that a} good ScrumMaster usually steps up and into the position as a proxy for that true product proprietor.

And in just a few particular cases, I’ve seen somebody fill each roles efficiently, in opposition to all odds. Every has been an distinctive individual, maybe the Blackbeards of Scrum. Nonetheless, in every case, my response was to assume how significantly better the individual might have achieved if enabled to work in solely one of many roles.

So, certain there are exceptions—similar to there are to any rule. Nonetheless, none of these exceptions ought to exist for the long run. And anybody in each roles concurrently ought to pay attention to the challenges the twin position presents. And in addition ought to contemplate what they may lose in attempting to fill each roles.

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