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How Self-Management can be Taken Up by the Product Owner (53)

January 11, 2024

We started this Scrum foundation series explaining we see four underlying concepts of the Scrum framework. In the past series of mails we covered the three pillars of Empiricism, and we covered the Scrum Values.

Now that we understand that we need trust, which is built up by living the Scrum Values, to bring transparency and as such have a good basis to inspect and adapt, we can have a look at the self-managing aspect of the Scrum Team.

👉 Self-managing, meaning the team internally decides who does what, when, and how.

Allowing to take more decisions = more mandate = more autonomy = higher motivation =  higher effectivity.

Together the team is self-managing. Each of the Scrum Team members plays an important role.

Let’s take a look at the Product Owner.

Being accountable for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Scrum Team, s/he does need to take active part in making decisions together with the other team members.

  • What is the next most valuable capability our users should benefit from? What is needed in our product to provide this capability? How do the other items in our Product Backlog relate to these?
    Even though the Product Owner is accountable to manage the Product Backlog, we expect this information and thinking process is shared and done together with the team.
    And so the Product Owner supports deciding on what.
  • Should the Scrum Team first work on capability X or is capability Y in the product more important for our users? Do we delay item A in favour of item B?
    Again the Product Owner is not expected to decide alone, yet has to ensure the required insights exists so that together the Scrum Team orders the Product Backlog as such that value is maximized.
    And so the Product Owner supports deciding on when.
  • The Product Goal is a long-term objective for the team. How will this be reached? Each Sprint, the Product Owner together with the other Scrum Team members agree on a Sprint Goal, which is a stepping stone towards this Product Goal.
    And so the Product Owner supports deciding on how.

These are just a few examples how the Product Owner plays a significant role in the self-management capabilities of the Scrum Team. While the Product Owner is accountable for managing the Product Backlog, s/he is not expected to do this alone.



Self-managing is about having a mandate to take decisions.

The Product Owner certainly needs to take an active part when it comes to deciding on which Product Backlog Items are to be implemented in order to achieve Product and Sprint Goals. And as such s/he supports the Scrum Team when it comes to making decisions about what, when, and how.

Note: without a clear (Product, Sprint and Quality) goal, without clear accountabilities, and without a clear boundaries, self-management will not occur.



Together with your Scrum Team, evaluate how self-management can be improved through the accountability of the Product Owner.

Also think about what additional insights or input the team would benefit from others outside the team about purpose and goals, the team's accountabilities and the boundaries they have to work within.


I hope you find value in these short posts and if you are looking for more clarifications, feel free to take contact.

If you want to take a deeper dive into the core concepts we are covering in this blog series, then surely check out our Professional Scrum MasterY workshop. We have some scheduled in the coming period.

Don't want to miss any of these blog posts? Have the professional Scrum foundations series weekly in your mailbox.

Self-management supported by the Product Owner

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