Much of the role of the Scrum Master is intangible. We don’t write elegant code, we don’t craft beautiful designs, and we better not be creating Gantt charts. Instead, we’re masters at soft skills, but how can such a thing be quantified? And if not quantified, how can I know if I’m a good Scrum Master? How can I honestly assess myself in the spirit of continuous improvement? With respect to a Scrum Master’s service to a team, it begins by asking six questions.
I was happy to hear that many of you enjoyed the Product Owner tips I offered in my previous blog post so I thought I’d jot down a couple more today. If you’d like to read my previous Product Owner tips, you can find it here. So let’s get to it.
I spent several years working in the gaming industry, and it was from a Product Owner there that I learned an odd but effective prioritization technique. At the end of sprint planning, he’d point to the sprint backlog and say, “See that story on top? That’s the only thing I’m concerned that gets done this sprint. Nothing else.” After a day or two, that story would be done, and at the next stand up, he’s point to the sprint backlog and say, “Great work! Now see that top story? That’s the only thing I’m concerned that gets done this sprint. Nothing else.”
Product Owners have a tough job. They’re required to take a swarm of opinions and coalesce those opinions into a single, unified vision. Undoubtedly, some stakeholders won’t agree with that vision, and they must invest time and energy in soothing the disgruntled. Further, if a Product Owner is thinking too far forward, the team gets restless because they have questions and the Product Owner is locked away in a conference room. The balance is unforgiving, and frankly, I don’t envy the role of the Product Owner. Most days, I write to the Scrum Master or agile coach but not today. Today, I want to share two tips with our Product Owners. I have a ton more Product Owner tips, but let’s start here and see what happens next. Let’s get started.
Opinions about backlogs are like assholes
Everyone has one, and most of them stink. Let me explain:
In my last blog post, I promised to offer up some tricks and tweaks to help facilitate the daily scrum. Today, I intend to deliver on that promise. Before reading on, I encourage you to read Mastering the Daily Scrum. As a reminder, we previously discussed how to improve and focus our stand up; however, something more tangible is often needed to reinforce the proper mindset. With that in mind, let’s talk about several tools that can help as we facilitate the daily scrum.