January 6, 2021

Accountabilities in Scrum: It's A Complete Picture Now

This is part #24 of 59 in the series Scrum Guide 2020 Updates

What is up awesome people? I hope you had an awesome holiday break. As you may have noticed, there have been several changes introduced in Scrum Guide 2020. Scrum no longer emphasizes roles but instead accountabilities. Before Scrum Guide 2020, the Scrum Master accountabilities was unclear and not explicit. Organisations gave people job titles like Product Owner and Scrum Master to their people but just remapping from the old role. Often times Product Owners and Scrum Masters in the companies has been dumbed-down rather than leveraged. The update in Scrum Guide 2020 has made the accountabilities of Scrum Master, Product Owner and Developers a complete picture.

To put it simply:

The Product Owner is accountable for the value and the success of the product in the market, looking outwards at possibilities and opportunities in the market. This goes beyond just managing the Product Backlog or requirements engineering. It requires entrepreneurship, imagination and long term vision because a well managed and a well written Product Backlog does not guarantee product's success.


Developers are accountable for delivering quality usable product every single Sprint. Otherwise, how can the Product Owner maximise value without anything usable shipped to the customer? The developers should forget about silos and should start looking into continuous delivery practices or DevOps practices to make this happen. This requires discipline and technical excellence.


And the Scrum Master is accountable for effectiveness on those value delivery by spreading awesomeness, removing impediments and improving the capability of the whole organisation in value delivery through coaching, training and mentoring. And of course this goes beyond team level only. It needs to be throughout the whole company because Scrum Teams don't work in isolation. This requires systems thinking and true leadership instead of babysitting. If the Product Owner is focused on looking outwards, the Scrum Master is focused on looking inwards, finding possibilities to improve the organisation capability to deliver value effectively.



The Product Owner, Developers and Scrum Master are accountable for specific areas which requires specific skillsets and at the same time they need to collaborate together so maximum value can be delivered effectively. None can be underestimated. They're all important and integral to the effectiveness of value delivery. The overall organisation agility really depends on how the people with these three accountabilities collaborate with one another.

Starting today I will be using this picture to help communicate to participants in my classes or even to those who are still wondering about the differences between Product Owner and Scrum Master or even to those who still questioned whether it is possible to have one person to be both the Product Owner and the Scrum Master. Hopefully it also helps you. Scrum On.

Scrum Accountabilities