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Why Should Scrum Masters Understand Product Ownership?
The scrum master is like the conductor of an orchestra, ensuring that every piece fits together at the right time to create something greater than the sum of the parts. You don’t have to know how to play each instrument, but you do have to understand what each part contributes to the overall masterpiece. So how does an understanding of product ownership fit in.
The product owner is the composer using their roadmap and backlog to define the components and timing of each feature and enhancement. They must be able to pull from their research and stakeholders the prioritization of changes and understanding how these changes improve the organization’s overall goals. The product owner then must be able to translate these goals and constraints to the delivery team so that they can determine how to bring these changes to life.
Scrum masters who only focus from the backlog forward in the delivery cycle risk missing the context of the changes and potential warning signs that there is a disconnect between the product owner and delivery team. By understanding the roadmap, the scrum master can help the team remain aligned to the long-term vision, make better decisions, and focus the retrospectives on positioning the team for future delivery needs.
The scrum master also needs to monitor and ensure teams are following processes and using the correct system of record. Getting familiar with your product owner’s platform (e.g. Aha!, ProductPlan, Productboard, Airfocus, Targetprocess, ProdPad, Roadmunk) will provide visibility without having to schedule one-on-one time to review. It can also help ensure the team’s backlog prioritization is aligned with the product owner’s goals.
If you’d like to learn tips for becoming a better product owner, consider the new publication from O’Reilly on the EBG Blog, “Answer This Question: “What is Your Product?”. They compiled 97 stories and lessons from Agile experts shared in this publication.
Scrum masters need to understand product ownership and the products the delivery teams are responsible for.
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