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Scrum Master or Product Owner member of Development team

Last post 03:50 pm March 10, 2020 by David Villacampa Rodriguez
8 replies
09:16 pm October 14, 2019


In my team, one of the development team member has been playing the role of scrum master.

After going over scrum guide and nexus guide, I am having the question whether we can have Product Owner or Scrum Master  part of the development team in the same scrum team?

I would like to understand whether suggests to have clear distinction between theses roles or can be left to the implementing team/organisation.



05:56 pm October 15, 2019

Given the clear purpose of each role within the Scrum Team what challenges might arise if a Scrum Master was also a Development Team member?

How might one apply the 3 pillars of Scrum to this dual role? 

06:10 pm October 15, 2019

02:23 am October 16, 2019

After going over scrum guide and nexus guide, I am having the question whether we can have Product Owner or Scrum Master  part of the development team in the same scrum team?

The Scrum Guide says regarding Development Team size: “The Product Owner and Scrum Master roles are not included in this count unless they are also executing the work of the Sprint Backlog.” What do you think about that? Would it be relevant to your team’s situation?

11:13 am October 16, 2019

In my team scrum master seems to be part of development team.

Also by referring to the above scrum guide section referred by Ian, it seems scrum guide is not saying scrum team will be violating the rules of scrum if the scrum master or product owner is part of development team.

Said that, in my project I can clearly see conflict of interest playing a major role where developers tend be more developer and less of a scrum master.

04:33 pm October 16, 2019

Parag, it is an important point to remember that, while Scrum does not prohibit a Product Owner or a Scrum Master from also contributing as a Development Team member, there are many serious concerns with how each Scrum role can be preserved, recognized, and executed under such a construct. 

11:50 am October 17, 2019

hi everyone

I got few questions to ask regarding PM PO.

need someone's help to get my concepts right


let me know if someone can help me


03:54 pm March 9, 2020

In my experience, we’re discussing here very common doubts. E.g.:

  • Can a Scrum Master (SM) be also a Development Team (DevT) member?
  • Can a Product Owner (PO) be also a Development Team (DevT) member?
  • Can a Development Team member also playing the Scrum Master or Product Owner role?
  • Etc.

In light of the Scrum Guide, I'd like to elaborate on this topic aimed to get closer as possible to a “full answer”. If you’re short in time, jump to “Conclusions”. I’d like to get your feedback!


The Scrum Team

First, let's clarify about the SCRUM TEAM. << The Scrum Team consists of a Product Owner, the Development Team, and a Scrum Master. >> So, the Scrum Team comes with three different roles: each with its own specific characteristics and accountability.

      We can DISTINGUISH between the roles, considering them as different ASPECTS of a UNITY (= the full Scrum Team). Scrum’s roles closely collaborate each other’s for a common purpose.

Role's main characteristics

Let's explore ROLES by pointing out their most distinctive aspects

  • Development Team (DevT) - Increment. <<Only members of the Development Team create the Increment.>>
  • Product Owner (PO) - Value (accountability). << The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product resulting from work of the Development Team >> What defines a PO the most is accountability: << The Product Owner may do the above work, or have the Development Team do it. However, the Product Owner remains accountable. >>
  • Scrum Master (SM) - Scrum. << The Scrum Master is responsible for promoting and supporting Scrum >>


People - Roles matching

Then, let’s gain insight from the Scrum Guide about how matching PEOPLE and ROLES. Here’re some key quotes…

  • Scrum Team = 3-9 people. << The Product Owner and Scrum Master roles are not included in this count unless they are also executing the work of the Sprint Backlog. >>
  • << The Product Owner is the sole person responsible for [...] >>. << The Product Owner is one person, not a committee. >>

In practice, Scrum’s roles distinction is always respected if each role is played by different people; that’s the most obvious case. In addition, it is said that the PO and/or SM can be also DevT members; here most complicated cases arise.



Scrum Team "3-D structure"

Having three rolesby design” suggests that Scrum aim for creating (inside the Scrum Team) a collaboration that emerge from the differences: each role specifically focus on “a part of the all” and they have to wisely respect, consider and balance each other’s. Because of this, it makes no sense to have a "1 person PO-SM"... This situation would collapse the model, the "3-D structure" of the Scrum Team .


PO, people-roles matching variations

Based on previous considerations, I can see different possibilities for a person playing the PO role...

  1. Just PO” - A fully dedicated PO, playing this role and no other. She takes full accountability for value.
  2. PO & DevT member” - She fully accomplishes her specific PO duties (main role), both accountability and “work”; in addition, she contributes to the Increment as a DevT member (further role). E.g.: the PO work-load is low for any reasons. Notice that the “PO cap” must always prevail over DevT member role: if any conflict had arisen, the PO should left DevT role (never the opposite).

The so called "Just PO" option comes in two flavours: 

  • "Accountability, not work” - The PO takes full accountability for value as well as delegates other "work" to the DevT. E.g.: the PO work-load is high, maybe due to having multiples teams working on one single product.
  • Accountability & work” - A fully dedicated PO. She plays the PO role and nothing more. She is accountable for value (a must be!) and she also perform all the role-inherent work (no delegation). E.g.: probably, the PO work-load and other circumstances are balanced enough to make it possible just like this.


SM, people-roles matching variations

Regarding to the SM role, I can see these possibilities...

  1. Just SM" - A fully dedicated SM, focuses on proper SM duties.
  2. SM & DevT member” - She takes full responsibility for everything inherent the SM role, and she also directly contribute to the Increment as a DevT member. E.g.: a high-performing team in a accustomed to Scrum organisation, so that the SM have an easy life 😉

The "Just SM" option comes in two possible flavours:

  • One team - The SM serves just one Scrum Team. E.g.: her specifics SM duties occupy all her time.
  • Multi-team - The SM focuses on typical SM duties, serving more than one Scrum Team. E.g.: more teams working for one product.


Number of players in a Scrum Team

So, a full Scrum Team always has 3-9 DevT; and it additionally has...

  • 1 PO “Just PO” + 1 SM “Just SM” = 5-11 Scrum Team
  • 1 PO “Just PO” + SM “SM & DevT member” = 4-10 Scrum Team
  • PO “PO + DevT member” + 1 SM “Just SM” = 4-10 Scrum Team
  • PO “PO + DevT member” + SM “SM & DevT member” = 3-9 Scrum Team (PO and SM are not the same person)


10:40 am March 10, 2020

Hi all,

In my opinion, the Scrum guide could be rewritten, "Scrum to the next level". "Maturity Scrum"

Scrum mature teams, with deep knownledges of product development and also in Agile principles, values and practices. Do they need a dedicated PO or a dedicated SM? What do you think about it?

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