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SM coaching a PO

Last post 03:57 pm December 30, 2015 by Bartek Kobylecki
9 replies
09:16 am June 4, 2015

A Scrum Master should ensure that the Scrum process is being followed. What happens if you have a Product Owner who does not want to follow - ie. not following definition of ready or bringing stories to Planning late in the day. The SM gives constant reminders to the PO of their duties and raises during retrospective, seeing little or no improvement from the PO. Any advice?


03:53 pm June 4, 2015

No one said SM was an easy ride, its a tough role to be in when problems start to occur.
You do not select the Product owner, the organisation does so they too have role to play in supporting the transition.
Has the PO had any training or an organisation swap of name from PM to PO?
There is a big difference between PM and PO, the team could suggest that the PO undertakes training at the retro.

The manifesto says

"At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts
its behavior accordingly"
You could feel that as a team the PO would be more effective with the right training/coaching.
As the PO is part of the scrum team is breaking that commitment to the team, it could simply be understanding or
an organisational change which made a PM a PO as they think they are the same.

Here are some good references:
http://www.romanpichler.com/blog/avoiding-common-product-owner-mistake/
http://lmsgoncalves.com/2014/09/29/product-owner-anti-patterns/


04:14 pm June 4, 2015

> What happens if you have a Product Owner
> who does not want to follow - ie. not following
> definition of ready or bringing stories to
> Planning late in the day. 

If PBI's are insufficiently refined to be planned into a Sprint, or are proposed too late for consideration during Sprint Planning, then the Development Team are under no obligation to accept any associated work. The result of inadequate product ownership should thereby become immediately apparent.


11:20 am June 5, 2015

Thanks guys. I think unfortunately, training is not an issue at the PO has had sufficient training to know their role.

@Ian - yes this is definitely a good point - just don't accept them into a sprint - it would make the PO learn.

How much reminding/pestering the PO do you think is needed by the SM mid-sprint in the run up to sprint planning to get missing requirements? This feels like a SM acting more like a PM, but I could be wrong?


01:27 pm June 5, 2015

> How much reminding/pestering the PO do
> you think is needed by the SM mid-sprint in
> the run up to sprint planning to get missing requirements? 

None whatsoever. If there is a problem in that regard then it is a coaching opportunity and the SM should approach it in that manner.

This could mean teaching the Development Team and the PO to work together in order to refine the Product Backlog in preparation for Sprint Planning. The SM should not manage those interactions, nor should he or she need to be present during backlog refinement activities.


07:50 am June 10, 2015

Thank you for the suggestion, Ian. This makes sense in that it is a coaching approach that's needed here.


10:20 am June 10, 2015

Agree with you, Ian.


03:12 am December 28, 2015

Hi Ian,

you wrote:

This could mean teaching the Development Team and the PO to work together in order to refine the Product Backlog in preparation for Sprint Planning. The SM should not manage those interactions, nor should he or she need to be present during backlog refinement activities.

I don't clearly understand how to teach PO and DT working together on backlog refining and not to manage those interactions at the same time. What "those interactions" are meant here?

Thanks!
Bartek


12:38 pm December 30, 2015

> I don't clearly understand how to teach PO
>and DT working together on backlog refining
> and not to manage those interactions at the same time.

A Scrum Master could reasonably give advice to team members about how they should liaise with each other. The SM may even give clear recommendations, but he or she does not have authority in these matters. Authority lies with those team members who are doing the work. Their interactions are not something that anyone else is in a position to manage.


03:57 pm December 30, 2015

Thanks, Ian, makes sense to me.


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