The Responsibllity of PO?

Last post 12:47 am February 13, 2016
by balvinder singh
14 replies
Author
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03:02 am August 10, 2015

This morning, I was discussing the tradeoff between “do the right thing” and “do the thing right” with a new scrum team.

The team has run a pilot project coached by anther “Certified” Scrum Master.
There is always a tension between the PO and DT.

After an open discussion, a funny and silly mistake of misunderstanding Scrum rules is up to the surface.

As expressed in Scrum Guide, The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product and the work of the development team.

What does it mean in Scrum Guide?

The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing
the-value-of-the-product
and
the-work-of-the-development-team.

- OR –

The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of
the-product-and-the-work-of-the-development-team.

PO thinks it makes sense to maximize the work of DT so that the performance and ROI would be maximized.

What do you think?
Thanks for any input.

04:20 am August 10, 2015

Dear Ching-Pei,

If the German Scrum Guide is not miss translated, it states your first case:
The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing
the-value-of-the-product
and
the-work-of-the-development-team.

PO is definitely responsible for ‘doing the right thing’. With this she can maximize the value of the product, but she indeed also defines the work of DT.

'Doing the thing right' is in general the responsibility of DT. But I would say, PO has also got a vote on this one. She decides on quality aspects that need or don’t need to be met for this product etc.

Your last statement on the other hand is a - let me call it - disease of many product owners or managers. They often think short term and need to be taught, that putting too much pressure regarding performance on DT will, in the long run, decrease not only performance but also the value of the product, because it will lead to technical depth and lower quality.

There is a lot of literature out there about this but progress towards getting managers on the boat is only made slowly and we still got a long way to go ;)
Funny enough, most managers have even had such a bad experience (or even many). But they just blame the developers and keep on pushing!?!

Sebastian

11:21 am August 10, 2015

Hi Sebastian,
Thanks for your input.

I just found the Traditional Chinese Edition of Scrum Guide is the same as:

The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing
the-value-of-the-product
and
the-work-of-the-development-team.

It’s funny. Just following the statement above, there is one Product Backlog management task expressing as:
Optimizing the value of the work the Development Team performs.

So, I prefer the later expressing mentioned:
The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of
the-product-and-the-work-of-the-development-team.

My opinion,
For a PO to succeed, the value delivered is over the work performed.

12:23 pm August 10, 2015

See this page on the confusion created by this language in the Scrum Guide:

http://scrumguide.uservoice.com/forums/241958-general/suggestions/66065…

12:29 pm August 10, 2015

I suggest that this be read as follows:

The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of:
- the product and
- the work of the development team

08:46 pm August 10, 2015

@Ian

How about

The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of (the product and (the work of the development team))

:)

08:51 pm August 10, 2015

Just as a User story, a sentence written on a card is not enough for clearly expressing the requirement.
There should be conversion and confirmation to build a shared understanding of the story.

If we read the entire responsibility of PO defined in Scrum Guide, it expressed clearly enough.
If the translated editions were translated line by line, there might be some mistakes like this topic discussed.

The kink of mistakes might mislead the readers, especial for non-native English speaker, and could cause a bias thinking spreading to new Scrum Teams.

I’ve tried to contact the translator of Traditional Chinese edition to discuss this issue.

08:24 am August 11, 2015

Is it really necessary to discuss the syntactical way this should be interpreted?

I'd rather have you assess the situation the team is in and make sure the DT, PO and SM agree on their responsibilities. As a guideline I would recommend what @Ian said. Which is the logical thing to do because the PO has nog way he or she can maximize the work the development team does. And if he/she could, it would not mean they deliver the highest value.

08:53 am August 11, 2015

Interesting question Ching-Pei. By maximizing the value of the product aren't we directly maximizing the value of the work of the development team?

Jitesh

09:15 am August 11, 2015

But we are not maximizing the work of the development team. That's what you could interpret here as Product Owner and think about buying a whip.

10:07 am August 11, 2015

Thanks Ludwig.

That's the real problem the new Scrum Team is facing.

The PO is mislead by the translated edition.

10:19 am August 11, 2015

Hi Jitesh,
The problem is the Product Owner interpreted the sentence as:
Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product.
and
Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the work of the development team.

12:53 pm August 11, 2015

Hi Ching-Pei,

Invest some more time with the PO to increase understanding of his/her role in SCRUM, self-organisation of teams and collective commitment. As per the SCRUM Guide, in sprint planning:-

"The Product Owner discusses the objective that the Sprint should achieve and the Product Backlog items that, if completed in the Sprint, would achieve the Sprint Goal." .... "The number of items selected from the Product Backlog for the Sprint is solely up to the Development Team."

I agree that the statement, "The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the work of the development team" is slightly ambiguous and can be interpreted as, "The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the [amount of] work of the development team", which can drive certain dysfunctions within teams - talk through these dysfunctions with the PO.

Only the Development Team can assess what it can accomplish over the upcoming Sprint.

Jitesh

04:15 pm February 12, 2016

Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the work of the development team - in the meaning to make sure DT will take a lot of PBI sounds like contradiction to scrum values. This could be used to have deeper discussions about roles and their meaning, duties and responsibilities in Scrum Team.

12:47 am February 13, 2016

The POr is an important agile role. But many organisations struggle to apply it effectively. This blog post wants to help you apply the role successfully by reflecting on its responsibilities.