Transitioning from Scrum Master to Product Owner role

Last post 02:01 pm May 17, 2019
by David A.
4 replies
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07:57 pm May 15, 2019

My department has been going through a lot of change.  So much so that we are losing people.  So far, we have lost 3 out of 10 developers and 1 out of 2 Product Owners.  We have had a couple of open positions for POs, as well, and have not been able to fill the roles with qualified candidates.  Recently, since we keep losing people, it was suggested that the 2 development teams merge to 1 team.  We have 1 Scrum Master per team, so if they merge, one of us Scrum Masters will be let go or will have to find a different position in the org.

 

It has been suggested that I step into the PO role.  I am for it, especially for self preservation, but it seems to be the most obvious solution to fix some of our current issues.  I've been a Scrum Master for about 6 years.  I know the role of PO, but "knowing" and "doing" are different things.  I'm just curious . . . as I'm facing this transition, what suggestions/advice does anybody have for this (if anything)?

 

Thanks!

09:24 pm May 15, 2019

I have been in a similar situation.  I was asked to become a PO because I "knew how it worked". I was willing to try and did.  What I found was that indeed I did know how it worked. I knew for what the PO role was responsible. I knew how to manage a Product Backlog in a way to support Scrum. I knew how to write stories in a way to convey the appropriate information.  I knew a lot about "how it worked".  But the catch was that I really sucked at doing the job of identifying the right things needed to deliver value.  I didn't know how to do that part. I had ideas of how but when it came to actually doing it, I was really ineffective and honestly lost. 

I understand your self-preservation thoughts.  But think real seriously before you do something just to save your current employment situation.  If you have been seeing attrition, you might want to look at why that is occurring, decide if it is valid and pertains to you also. (See what I did there?) If you really enjoy being a Scrum Master, I'd look into the job market in your area for Scrum Masters to see if you could continue the role somewhere else before I made the jump to PO just to save your employment at your current company.  I am not saying that you would be a bad PO, just sharing my own adventure into the realm.  Good thing I left breadcrumbs to help me find my way out. 

11:39 am May 16, 2019

Great advice, Daniel!

I'd only add that, in light of your expertise ("Scrum Master for about 6 years"), I think it would be worth a shot to continue as a PO or another role (Agile Coach, Transformation Consultant, etc), especially since you are now "motivated" to act (downsizing/restructuring).

I know it's easier said than done, but maybe you find the courage in you to go wild and learn from your experience - you could end up being a great PO! I won't lie - personally I'd find it very difficult if I were to do it myself

08:46 am May 17, 2019

It has been suggested that I step into the PO role.  I am for it, especially for self preservation, but it seems to be the most obvious solution to fix some of our current issues.  I've been a Scrum Master for about 6 years.  I know the role of PO, but "knowing" and "doing" are different things.  I'm just curious . . . as I'm facing this transition, what suggestions/advice does anybody have for this (if anything)?

Which of these roles are you more likely to see as a vocation?

02:01 pm May 17, 2019

Thanks for the insights!  That is helpful and confirms a little of what I'm feeling.  Unfortunately, I'm in the position of needing to do what I have to do, at the moment, to provide for my family.  However, I'm open to other options, too.  Until anything else may open up, I think this situation will help me, but also is the best option we have to help the teams move forward.