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The New Way Scrum Masters Serve Our Product Owners

Last post 10:13 am November 9, 2017 by Steven Busse
2 replies
04:03 am November 9, 2017

This week we just saw the release of the 2017 Scrum Guide. I was curious to see what was new compared to the 2016 Scrum Guide and was reading them both side by side. One of the items that I found to be interesting was an additional way the Scrum Master serves the Product Owner:

  • Ensuring that goals, scope, and product domain are understood by everyone on the Scrum Team as well as possible;

I like how the new 2017 Scrum Guide calls this out because it is an important facilitation role for the Scrum Master. Understanding the goal of the Sprint is the beacon that guides the team to ensuring that their Sprint Backlog has exactly what it needs to accomplish the goal. As Scrum Masters we support the Product Owner in revealing the value this goal will have to the business which in turn helps the Development Team value their work.

Scrum Masters are also encouraged to support the Product Owner in understanding scope. We can help facilitate discussions of where the natural breakpoints are in a feature which helps the Product Owner embrace a self-organizing team’s approach to delivering value. We can also help the Product Owner understand the value of the Development Team building the scope of the Sprint Backlog (as opposed to it being decided for them) which demonstrates respect for their expertise and increases the commitment level of the Development Team because they own it.

The final dimension outlined in the new bullet point is the product domain. This will lead to productive discussions led by the Product Owner about how the product differentiates itself in the market. As the Development Team understands the advantage the product provides to the business we realize the value of leveraging the knowledge of the team as they can provide insights to maximize the value based on their intimate knowledge of the product.

This new service that the Scrum Master provides as a servant leader to the Product Owner as well as the Development Team will help connect the technical work more deeply into the value that is created for the business. When the entire Scrum Team sees the connection between the goals of the business and the goals of the Sprint it increases their focus in delivering the best solutions possible.

07:52 am November 9, 2017

As Scrum Masters we support the Product Owner in revealing the value this goal will have to the business which in turn helps the Development Team value their work.

Correct. We may need to clarify that it is revelation by means of such things as facilitation, and that people should not appeal to a Scrum Master as a product domain authority.

10:13 am November 9, 2017

On the same page as Ian on this. I see the risk that people misunderstand this as actually needed to actually have domain knowledge instead of facilitating distribution and usage of the knowledge.

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