Typical interactions between the PO & SM

Last post 05:27 am November 29, 2017
by Simon Mayer
1 reply
05:47 pm November 28, 2017

My company has recently implemented the scrum framework. We have 2 certified SM. Myself and another colleague will going to a Certified Product Owner course this week.

I am curious to find out how other SM and POs interact on a day to day basis at other companies. I would like to compare how this company handles scrum (which is new to all of us here) to others who may have more experience.

05:27 am November 29, 2017

Hi Karrie,

I can offer one Scrum Master's perspective.

The Scrum Guide does define the Scrum Master role, and specifically mentions some of the ways the Scrum Master serves a Product Owner: http://www.scrumguides.org/scrum-guide.html#team-sm

I think it's important to understand that "serves" refers to "servant-leadership", rather than subordination.

For me, it's more important that a Scrum Master understands the rules of the framework, and then lives the spirit of Scrum. For instance, developing knowledge about what can and cannot be done according to the Scrum Guide, and then developing an instinctive feel for interactions and changes that offer genuine improvement, rather than masking hidden issues. This isn't always easy, and will be an ongoing process.

After having that basis, I feel a Scrum Master will be able to provide an appropriate response to unfolding situations, whether they involve the Product Owner, Development Team, or others within the organization. Appropriate responses can, for instance, include silently observing what is happening (and intervening only when necessary), directly challenging a situation, providing advice to those affected, facilitating improvements, etc.

I suggest you watch Barry Overeem's 8 stances of a Scrum Master https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts2Tl82fcXQ (alternatively search for his blog post about the same topic). If I recall correctly, Barry discusses "good" and "great" Scrum Masters, and the interactions a great Scrum Master has with a Product Owner will be different, so the situation will be somewhat varied.

In a more direct answer to your role, some things I've done recently include:

  • Coach an inexperienced Product Owner to understand the rules of Scrum, and then specifically what is expected of the role
  • Suggest the introduction of a value score on each Product Backlog Item, in order to help with prioritization.
  • Work with the Product Owner to provide greater transparency to stakeholders about what has been forecast for the Sprint
  • Work with the Product Owner to improve the Sprint Review - making it more interactive, and involving stakeholders more directly, rather than it just being a demo
  • Advise the whole Scrum Team how large Product Backlog Items can be broken down in to smaller bits of product improvement, instead of breaking them down by technical (non-usable) tasks