Scrum: Product Owner FAQ

1. Should the product owner guide the team during sprint execution?

Simple and plain NO.

Many times, when teams are just starting their journey towards agile, this can be an option; but remember, Agile is all about empowered and hyper productive teams. And then, we believe in creating “hero teams” rather than a very strong (read nasty) “hero” product owner who always interferes in the execution.

If he is there always, whats the fun for the teams? How do they raise their bar in each sprint? How do they learn from their mistakes?

That being said, the product owner has to be there when team feels they need him.

2. Is it a business oriented or a technical role?

Product owners do their job best if they are business people.

Turning your best technical guys into product owners has several flaws:

  • You lose one of the best guys who could have done a great job in project execution.
  • You make the Product owner’s role the “position to be in” for the best technical guys. Why would you like to do that? You lose the best executors when you do that.
  • Let’s face it: Knowing how to do programming is very different than knowing what the customer really wants from the product.

3. Can the same guy play the role of Product Owner and Scrum Master at the same time?

Answer this first: Can the same person be your mother as well as father? Emotionally Yes for many of us, but not practically (I am definitely not taking any so called “latest research on human reproduction” into account šŸ™‚ ).

the product owner
The Product Owner

Product owner is the father for the scrum team: They always want to push their children to the limits. They always want more from their children (and the team should know that. Never allow the product owner to influence your estimates.).

On the other side, Scrum Master is the mother for the scrum teams. They protect their children from the bad guys (product owners, project managers, …). They are the safety net of the team. They know what the team can do, and tell the stakeholders about their limitations and capabilities.

4. Should the product owner show his displeasure if demo scope/quality is not as per his expectations?

Hell Yes.

As a product Owner, make sure you do not fall into the trap of being too nice to the team. If they did a lousy job, they should know about it.

It is as simple as this: If they do not get proper feedback, they can’t improveĀ  in the next demo. But yes: it takes some maturity to communicate displeasure to the team in a proper manner.

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