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Roles vs accountabilities

Last post 09:13 pm November 21, 2022 by Ian Mitchell
4 replies
11:08 am October 9, 2022

Hi All :) 

I wonder about the difference between roles and accountabilities. In the older version of SG were roles, in the 2020 version we have accountabilities. After mentioned change, I've been using accountabilities instead of roles. However, recently, I noticed that in the Polish version of the SG we have a "Glossary" with the following translation: 

"Roles | Role 
Scrum Team 
Scrum Master Product Owner Developers Artifacts
Product Backlog Sprint Backlog Increment"

And basically, this is the only place where the word "roles" appears. Am I exaggerating that we shouldn't go in the direction of naming Scrum Team members by role? Or is it no big deal, and both versions are correct? 

03:39 pm October 10, 2022

@patrycja, I suggest you check out which goes into the change and its importance.

10:04 am October 11, 2022

@Patrycja, the source linked by Eric is nice clarification how to approach in general such dilemma. However, I would not omit the fact that you refer to Polish version of the Scrum Guide. Sadly, the translation in my opinion misses a lot in comparison with the original text. Starting from the very cover page, where we have:

  • EN: "The Scrum Guide

    • The Definitive Guide to Scrum: The Rules of the Game"
  • PL: "Przewodnik po Scrumie
    • Przewodnik po Scrumie: opis reguł"

Which can be translated back exactly as:

  • PL->EN: "The Scrum Guide

    • The Scrum Guide: Description of the rules"

And that is only the very first page. Another example might be this sentence:

  • EN: "The Scrum Master is accountable for the Scrum Team’s effectiveness."
  • PL: "Scrum Master ponosi odpowiedzialność za efektywność Scrum Teamu."
  • PL->EN: "The Scrum Master is accountable for the Scrum Team’s efficiency." Efficiency is best translation of Polish "efektywność" as those words conveys almost the same intention. While better translation would be by using PL word "skuteczność", which is closer in meaning to english effectiveness.

Going back to your concern. This glossary in PL Scrum Guide is an extra addition, and being inconsistent with changes like "Roles -> Accountabilities" is not helpful for foreigners to learn Scrum through translated Scrum Guide. My best advice would be to read original version whenever it is possible to not risk misunderstanding of intents by not perfect translations 😉

04:39 pm November 21, 2022

Thank you both :). My concerns are related to the lack of proper words in the polish dictionary. At least for my perspective - it is difficult to translate "accountabilities" and "responsibilities". 

09:13 pm November 21, 2022

Think of responsibility as being task-oriented: the actions which are performed in the satisfaction of an office. Accountability is results-oriented: the ownership of outcomes.

Responsibilities can be delegated but accountabilities cannot. Both involve trust.