Product Owner influence in Sprint

Last post 10:40 am February 12, 2015
by Elswood Martin
5 replies
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12:55 pm February 10, 2015

Hi there,

I wanted to get your opinions. We have a newly formed Scrum team (we are just starting our second sprint). The Product Owner comes from a heavy waterfall background but seems open to giving Scrum a try.

The issue is, she wants to stop by every other week to visit the team, which I think is good for the face to face aspect, but I will be having a conversation with her to be cautious of turning these into a 'status' or 'checking up on the team' type visits.

Part of me thinks this is okay as long as the team can get details /clarification from her when she visits but part of me also thinks this does not create the 'self-managing' environment that we want.

I also have a related issue with a 'lone wolf' on the team who has started giving her daily status updates. On the one hand, I think if it's one-directional (meaning, she's not asking, he's just volunteering) it's okay if it makes him feel more comfortable. The other part of me wonders if I should discourage this behavior altogether as it is not conducive to the team and creates the wrong dynamic.

I'd appreciate any advice.

Thanks.

01:36 pm February 10, 2015

> Part of me thinks this is okay as long as the team
> can get details /clarification from her when she
> visits but part of me also thinks this does not create
> the 'self-managing' environment that we want.

The PO is a member of the Scrum Team. Why do you think Scrum Team discussions about scope, and its further clarification, are a contra-indication to self-management? Can you explain your concern a bit further?

02:23 pm February 10, 2015

My concern is that these visits from the PO may be seen as 'status' updates and possibly adding to the sprint goal because the team members (in my opinion) aren't experienced enough in Scrum to feel empowered enough to say no.

03:50 pm February 10, 2015

Team members who can't say "no" aren't self-managing, because they will rely on others to say "no" for them.

It's important for your team to develop this skill, and that can only happen if everyone including the Product Owner are free to work together. I'd be pro-active about facilitating that and cultivating the Development Team's sense of joint responsibility in the collaborative process. The team as a whole must be comfortable working with the PO towards the agreed Sprint Goal...and of course that's a very different thing to one developer giving "updates".

04:20 pm February 10, 2015

That's true... I guess this is where the 'lone wolf' issue comes into play. This member of the dev team is out to impress the PO so he will say yes without discussing with the other team members. I have tried talking to him about this twice. He feels that he is a team player and doesn't understand that he should discuss with the other team members first.

10:40 am February 12, 2015

Another item to investigate is if the stories are small enough and isolated enough that when the PO "visits" the development team is actually showing stories that completed acceptance criteria for the PO to accept. This changes the focus from a "status" check to an action of the team as a whole. It sounds like you do not expect the PO to be involved until the Sprint Review, that is not good in my experience (as Ian said before they are part of the SCRUM TEAM) and should be active and collaborative.