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Hi all.

As you all know, the answer that grandma gave is, “All the better to eat you up!”. Now what could I be referring to, well this post is about responsibility and when the boundaries are not respected you get bit!, hard. In this story, Grandma is the Product Owner and our little red riding hood is the Scrum Master.

Scrum is very lightweight and should remain so. That being said, the lines we draw concerning responsibility is quite simple.

  • The PO (Product Owner) is responsible for the Product being developed.
  • The Scrum Master is responsible for the process. (ok, it’s more complex than that, but for now it will suffice)
  • The Development Team is responsible to deliver (solution) for the increments of the Product.

Simple enough right. It seems that this is where non-experienced Scrum Masters fail. We as Scrum Masters have to make sure that the above points are understood by all parties, otherwise a nasty game of cat and mouse will ensue about responsibility.

The basis to the way the roles are setup is definitely simple, it is based on this principle:

If Everyone is responsible, no one is responsible

Therefore Scrum Masters don’t make Product decisions. What are we to do, you ask? Repeat the rules! again, again and again if you have to. What happens if you make a product decision? Yes your right! You become the Scapegoat for Product Direction Failure. I am not saying that we do not have the knowledge or insight to make those kinds of decisions, but we have enough on our plate and the last thing we want is to be held responsible for the Product. Oh! and let’s not forget that same goes for the Development Team.

Organisations thrive on Politics and a parallel I like to make about us Scrum Masters is that we are a little like Lobbyists. In my previous post, Scrum Master: The Brave and the bold, I mention something quite important and it is about our everybody involvement being one of Influence. Therefore, just like lobbyists we influence decisions but do not make them, especially not about the Product. Politicians like to live in the ambiguous zone and love to hide behind anything they can get their hands on, so we as Scrum Masters must make these facts known. This is definitely not a popularity contest because we get alot of flak when we first start, but once people see the benefits we get to catch a break.

Just remember to bring your best “Mr. Miyagi” to the game. 🙂

Thanks, PS.