Can a scrum master operate in the role of Scrum Master and PO or Product Manager at thesame time???

Last post 04:40 pm July 30, 2021
by Alfredo Alcantara
5 replies
06:40 pm July 29, 2021

An organization I was interviewing for as a Scrum Master started  their introduction by telling me that my role will be that of a scrum master and Product Owner at  the same time, i.e. apart from facilitating Scrum Events, removing impediments, shilding team from outside distraction, and organising team to be highly performant etc,  the Scrum Master will also be managing the Product Backlog, be point of Contact for external communications e.g. from Customers and Stakeholders. I tried to explain to them that the PO's role is different from that of a scrum master and that if scrum guide does not encourage an individual to occupy the two roles but they were just not understanding.

when I seeked to know their sprint timebox they said their sprints were lasting 6 weeks and daily stand up was lasting at times 30 minutes and up!! and they had sprint review when they wished, I will like to get our opinions here whether one should even border to accept an offer from such a company? what advise should one give to these types of companies??




11:04 pm July 29, 2021

Do you like a challenge?  If you do, you will have one on your hands.

This could be a fantastic chance to share your experience and break away from these poor practises and demonstrate the empiricism of scrum.  On the other hand, if it's an organisation that's unwilling to change, then it sounds like a frustrating time may be on the cards.

In my experience, it's rare to find an organisation that follows the scrum framework with rigor.  Many compromise, but it does sound like there's a lot of 'compromises' here.  Are the organisation open to change and improve?

There is nothing that I'm aware of in scrum theory that prevents the PO and SM being the same person, however there's clearly going to be conflict in combining these roles and it would require a lot of discipline to bring balance.  Especially on busy, complex products.


11:13 pm July 29, 2021

but they were just not understanding.

Perhaps they have been given no sense of urgency to understand Scrum and its effective application. It's the responsibility of senior leadership to sponsor and reinforce the need for an optimal Scrum implementation if they expect the corresponding outcomes. Were they at the interview to clarify this matter?

11:43 pm July 29, 2021

It sounds like the organization isn't using Scrum, although they have borrowed some of the Scrum terminology (and used it improperly) to describe their way of working. There's nothing wrong with working in 6 week iterations (Basecamp's Shape Up process is built on 6 week cycles, too). 30 minutes is a bit long for a daily coordination meeting. Having an ad-hoc product review session may be fine if you're doing ad-hoc releases and deployments. The only thing that I'd find worrying is the combination of product management and process coaching - the end result is usually much closer to a project manager and often doesn't support autonomous teams.

Perhaps their process works for them. Perhaps they want to improve but don't have the appropriate skillset. I don't think anyone can tell you if you should work for such an organization is a position like they describe or not.

02:01 pm July 30, 2021

This company is like every other company that says they "use Scrum".  In a way they are correct because the use some Scrum terms.  But they do not follow the Scrum framework as described in the Scrum Guide.  Sadly, this is a common occurrence in the United States.  

You are the only one that can decide if you want to entertain an offer from companies like this.  In all honesty, I've worked in companies like this, in fact I'm working at one now.  You have to decide if the paycheck is more important than standing true to your beliefs that the Scrum framework is necessary.  

04:40 pm July 30, 2021

Fully agree with Daniel