What Alternatives to the Creation of Product Owner and Scrum Master Roles Could We Try?
The role of Product Owner and Scrum Master were established to deal with specific issues. This means that if you decide not to use these roles, or if you decide that those assigned to these roles are working part time, then you still potentially have these problems and will need to work to overcome them.
Thinking about the Scrum Master role of working toward a high performing team. Experience tells us that if we want a high performing team, we will need someone to coach that team (try to think of a successful sports team without a coach). It’s not that our people are not professional. It’s just that their perspective is not “how is the team interacting to produce value?” If you do not use a Scrum Master for this, then how will this get done?
Some organizations use managers for this function but there are problems with this approach. Firstly managers are often very busy and cannot dedicate the time required to really build a high performing team. Secondly organizations find the way team members interact with managers is different to how they will interact with peers. The result is that it can be difficult for managers to impact the team in the right way.
Thinking about the Product Owner roles of providing a single view of the most important things a team could work on. Again the problem doesn’t just go away if we don’t set up a Product Owner. By setting up the Product Owner role we also encourage a change in the process. So, for example, when someone comes directly to a team member asking for something specific, it is easy for that person to say “Talk to the Product Owner”.
Some organizations create a process around the the intake system and, instead of having a single Product Owner, they set up a group who is responsible for determining the prioritized backlog. This group then meets regularly to deal with changes, new incoming items, and updates as a result of work.