Category Archives: Scrum

Product Owners and Scrum Masters: Partners in Adversity

Despite their differing priorities a Product Owner (PO) and Scrum Master (SM) must be on the same team. More specifically, in a successful scrum team the PO must be a partner to the SM. Their adversity comes from the roles they play. The sentiment applies equally well to Agile Project Managers and Agile Coaches. That said, framing it in the context of Scrum makes the narrative easier.

Tug Of War Between Two Girls Stock Photo

meepoohfoto –

The PO is beholden to the customer or end-user as well as the business. Their main function is to maximize value delivery. The SM is beholden to the team. Their main function is ensuring and enacting scrum through servant-leadership of the team. With no SM a PO might very well burn a team out by requiring too much of them. Without a PM a SM might hinder value delivery by shielding the team from more than they should or allowing more experimentation than the business can support. Hence a partnership must form between the PO and SM for a successful team to emerge. The adversity arises due to the difference in priorities between these two roles. Continue reading

Revisited: Agile is not Scrum

While continuing to prep for my families move to Colorado next month I have decided to revisit a post or two from before. I may take a week off from writing as well.

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atibodyphoto –

This post found widespread reading when it was first published in November of 2013. I’m adding it here as it was early in this blogs life and many people may have missed it back then. If you have seen it before all is not lost. I have gone through it and done some editing to make sure it’s still relevant.

When looking for information on Agile, software development is the most common industry represented. Within those results more often than not Scrum is used as the implementation. Many articles that try to talk about Agile in a generic sense use terminology from Scrum. A common side effect of this is that many people associate Agile and Scrum on a 1 to 1 level. This is a problem.

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Who is the Product Owner?

3d businesspeople connecting puzzles.

David Castillo Dominici –

The Product Owner. Part of the team; apart from the team. The final answer to the question “what?” The primary respondent to the question “why?” She knows what the users want. He understands what the users need.

The Product Owner (PO) has a great amount of power. (And responsibility – “With great power comes great responsibility.” – Stan Lee via Uncle Ben) The PO ensures the Development Team produces value. In scrum the PO is the keeper of the Product Backlog. The PO is one person. The PO is the final authority for the product. The PO role is not to be taken lightly. It must be given to the proper person. Who that right person is depends on a lot of factors. Continue reading

The New Daily Stand Up

I’ve spoken about the Daily Stand Up before. I’ve also talked about how it didn’t work right for us. Some time in the last couple of weeks I came across a blog post that resonated with me on these meetings.

See, I’m all for Scrum. It’s a great tool. The process framework is something that will really help enable change in most organizations. That said, Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools. The Agilist in me can not allow Scrum to become a sacred cow. Continue reading

The Development Team

Team by graur codrin via

graur codrin via

Scrum runs as a team process. Part of the Scrum Team is the Development Team. Having a dedicated team of professionals delivering fully “Done” product is something that every form of Agile can relate to. An unfortunate side-effect of the name is that not every team is created with the ability to deliver a “Done” product. Continue reading

Scrum Master Defined

The topic of what a Scrum Master (SM) seems to be pretty hot lately. In some sense this is confusing to me. I haven’t taken a class and obtained CSM yet. That said, everything I can find points to the CSM and PSM, which I did obtain, being equal. Equivalent in function, knowledge, and ideals.

The Scrum Guide from spells out what a SM does. It does it in 291 words that span half of two different pages. My assumption is that the Scrum Alliance has some similar definition of what a SM does. Of course, Scrum is a framework. Much like the frame of a car is not drive-able Scrum will need more than what is defined to truly deliver value.  Continue reading

The Project Manager and Scrum

Most Agile Journeys begin with Scrum. As I was reading through a blog post over at agileheads it occurred to me that what to do with the Project Manager is perhaps the biggest mystery in Scrum.

Think of it. A classic project team goes to Scrum training together. The Project Manager, the developers, the testers, the analysts. Perhaps there’s even a customer representative that goes, or someone from sales. Out from the training should emerge a Scrum Team, (Product Owner, Scrum Master, Developers) and Stakeholders. In this case “Developers” are not equal to “developers” – but we’ll look at that another day. There is no PM in that list. No “boss”. So what happened? Does the PM stay in the training room forever? Did they sneak out the back – no longer part of the team? Continue reading

Daily Scrum

About a month ago I talked about why we got rid of the daily stand-up. There seems to be a lot of discussion about this Scrum Event lately. With that in mind I decided to spend a little more time on what this meeting is supposed to be.

Pro-tip: If you are interviewing someone for an Agile Coach position and they suggest that Daily Stand-Ups are a core part of Agile feel free to politely end the interview. Continue reading

PSM Versus CSM Revisited

Previously I talked about the differences between Certified Scrum Master and Professional Scrum Master. In that post I concluded that from a hiring stand-point they were functionally the same. The big difference comes for the person seeking the certification. One certification requires a class costing $1200 followed by a short, reportedly easy, test and the other requires a difficult test costing $100. Since the company just spent more than those totals combined to send me to PMI-ACP training followed by the exam fees I opted to self fund my certification. Lack of spare vacation days means I needed one that didn’t require 2 days of my time. As I ended that post I pointed out that my money is on the PSM. Continue reading

Cross-Functional: Teams vs Individuals

Last week I was reading through some old posts on Scrum in preparation for my PSM exam. One on Ken Schwabers blog caught my attention. I will not pretend to know more than Mr. Schwaber about Scrum or Agile. I did pose a question with some explanation to my thinking in the comments. I have expanded on that comment here and would love to know what other people think about it. Continue reading