April 30, 2020

Can we have more than one Product Owner?

One of the questions about Scrum I’m often asked is, “Can we have more than one Product Owner per product?” In fact, one of the few Scrum rules about the Product Owner role is,

“The Product Owner is one person, not a committee.” (The Scrum Guide)

Instead of responding to the question by simply reciting this rule, I like to use a metaphor to create an understanding of why Scrum requires the Product Owner to be a single person, and why you should require this too:

Imagine that your Scrum Team is the crew of a rowing boat. There are people doing the hard work of rowing, there’s a person who among other things helps these people create and maintain rhythm and then there’s the person holding the rudder.

The boat is your Scrum Team. The people doing the rowing are your Developers, the person facilitating rhythm is your Scrum Master, and the person holding the rudder is your Product Owner. The rudder determining the direction of your boat towards a goal is the Product Backlog. The content and ordering of the Product Backlog make visible the decisions of the Product Owner.

A Scrum Team is like a crew rowing a boat.

With that metaphor established, I like to ask, ...

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