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Scrum Master – The Scrum Team’s Servant-Leader!

The term servant leader is synonymous with a Scrum Master. But what does it mean? The Scrum Master is a servant leader in Agile projects, but servant leadership goes far beyond Agile, and Scrum Masters serve more than just the team.In this blog we attempt to look at the Scrum Master’s role as a servant leader, what the role entails and the responsibilities of the Scrum Master beyond the team, in context to the organization. What is servant-leadership?The term servant leadership was first coined by Robert Greenleaf in his article “The Servant as Leader”, in which he defined a servant leader as: The Servant-Leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That leader significantly differs from one who is leader first, may be due to the need to acquire power, material belonging, control and authority within the organization. Servant leadership is something very different from traditional leadership, which places the leader at the top of the hierarchy and the employees in the lower rung. Servant leadership, in a sense, is the opposite of traditional leadership, as it places the leader at the bottom of the hierarchy while employees are on the higher rungs. The leaders, in this case, are serving the people above them. Servant leadership refers to leaders who believe in serving people and the community that they are a part of, rather than accumulating power for themselves. This style of leadership emphasizes on helping subordinates better themselves, empowering employees and helping others perform to the best of their abilities.Servant leadership does not prescribe telling employees what to do, instead it helps the workforce find their sense of ownership and unlock their potential to reach their goals. Servant leadership is all about empowering others, which when consistently done can raise morale, enhance productivity and reduce employee attrition.Servant Leadership and ScrumScrum, in a way, is the very essence of servant leadership. Unlike traditional project management methodologies, it does not follow a top-down, hierarchical approach. Instead, decisions are lateral and happen with the involvement of the whole team. Scrum is the perfect approach in which to practice the concept of servant leadership. The 5 Scrum values of Openness, Respect, Commitment, Courage, and Focus, adhere to the philosophy of Servant Leadership. The Scrum Master plays a key role in the development of the product, the team and the organization. The Scrum Guide defines the servant leadership a Scrum Master’s role has to perform in context to the roles mentioned above. The Scrum Values that a Scrum Master practices have a ripple effect throughout the organization. The Scrum Master is seen as an evangelist for practicing and promoting Scrum in the enterprise.The Agile Manifesto and servant-leadershipThe Agile Manifesto states that one must value: Individuals and interactions over Process and tools Working software over Comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over Contract negotiation Responding to change over Following a plan These again align with the values of servant leadership, which is all about putting people or employees first. The Agile Manifesto describes focusing on building projects around motivated individuals and giving them an environment of support, trust and collaboration—all characteristics of servant leadership.Who Are These Servant Leaders?The Scrum Guide defines the service provided by the Scrum Master as servant leadership. The Scrum Master selflessly provides servant leadership to the development team, product owner and the whole organization. By serving these entities, the Scrum Master can create a high performing team, a valuable product and an efficient organization that is able to meet business objectives and keep customers happy.  Though the term Scrum Master may be deceptive, the Scrum Master is not a master of the team but in fact serves the team in order to ensure smooth functioning and productivity.Servant Leadership and Scrum Master Roles of Servant LeadershipServant leadership:The day-to-day activity of a Scrum Master involves servant leadership. Servant leadership in a scrum team involves performance planning, coaching, helping the team self- organize, resolving conflicts through conflict management, removing obstacles that hinder progress and serving the team. The Scrum Master, while practicing servant leadership, helps the team grow and mature and become independent enough to make their own decisions. Servant leadership in Scrum is all about making the team self-reliant, so they can cope with the pressures of the role. As a servant leader the Scrum Master creates a high performing team, helps them become collaborative and high performing in order to achieve goals and meet the requirements of the customer.  Service to the Scrum Team: As a servant leader, the primary responsibility of the Scrum Master is to help the development team perform. They help the team perform to the best of their abilities by giving them an environment that is conducive to work in, encouraging them, guiding them and removing obstacles that may hinder progress. As a coach, the Scrum Master will guide the team on scrum processes and help them adhere to Agile values during the development of the product. The Scrum Master is responsible for the scrum team’s effectiveness, and they work tirelessly to ensure that the team is motivated, encouraged, creative and innovative. The Scrum Master through servant leadership helps the team improve Scrum practices which helps them become more productive and generate value. The Scrum Team’s role in motivating and helping the team comes through in the daily stand-up meetings that are arranged as part of the sprint. The Scrum Master encourages team members to share their grievances and progress made through the sprint. Team members can talk about obstacles that may be hindering their work and due cognizance will be taken up by the Scrum master to ensure that these obstacles are removed.  According to the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master helps the Development Team by: Coaching the team in becoming self-organized and cross-functional Helping the Scrum Team focus on creating high-value increments by removing impediments Helping the team deliver within the timeframe of the sprint Service to the Product Owner: The Scrum Master is a servant leader not just for the development team but also the Product Owner. While the Product Owner is primarily responsible for the product backlog, they cannot do this alone. The Scrum Master aids the development team and the Product Owner with effective product backlog management.The Scrum Master is involved at every stage of the product backlog grooming, helping the product owner with Scrum events, product planning and to identify backlog items along with the development team. The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner define the product vision to the team.   According to the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master helps the Product Owner by: Helping in Product Goal definition and Product Backlog management Helping the Scrum Team understand manage the Product Backlog items Setting up empirical product planning in complex environments and, Managing and facilitating stakeholder collaboration.Service to the Organization: The Scrum Master is a coach and motivator not just for the development team but goes beyond the team to spread the awareness of Scrum in the entire organization. Scrum Masters coach and help teams and departments understand Scrum and develop an Agile mind-set. Besides servant leadership to the team a Scrum Master is also involved in promoting the ideas and values of Scrum. An organization can get an agile mind-set only if the entire organization adopts Scrum and not just a few teams. This is where the Scrum Master comes in, helping other teams not involved with Scum to gain the Agile mind-set, through training and coaching. The Scrum Master is an Agile evangelist and promotes Scrum enterprise-wide.According to Scrum.org the Scrum Master serves the organization by: Leading, training, and coaching the organization in adopting Scrum Planning and advising Scrum implementations within the organization Coaching employees and stakeholders in the way Scrum works Helping stakeholders work with Scrum TeamsSome Servant-Leader Behaviours for every Scrum MasterBeing empathetic: This is the foremost personality trait required for anyone wanting to become a Scrum Master. Your empathy will shine through in your interactions with the team members and your dealings with the stakeholders. You should be able to see problems from the point of view of each party and work towards solving these problems. Caring: As a caring and empathetic Scrum Master, your team will feel free to approach you and share their concerns. Providing a listening ear will make you more approachable. You will be able to more clearly understand the impediments that are stopping project progress and work towards providing a solution.  Managing Conflicts: Not all team members will get along with each other and this can cause disruptions and problems within the team, lowering their productivity. As a Scrum Master you need to be great at conflict management, help others solve their problems, work with each other and create a high performing and harmonious team. Building relationships: You need to build a rapport with your team, the product owner and the stakeholders. This will help you communicate freely and help others approach you with their problems and issues. You need to build that relationship of trust and take everyone along on the journey of success.  Being ethical: Ethics play an important role in software development, especially since software now controls every aspect of our lives. The product created should be free of malice and fraud. The Scrum Master should guide the team in delivering the product at a value and standard that is expected and agreed upon with the stakeholder. There should not be any shortcuts or concessions made on the quality of the product delivered as this will affect not just the Scrum Master and the team’s reputation but will cause a dent in the reputation of the organization.   Conclusion  Servant leadership and the Scrum Master’s role is the backbone of Scrum. The Scrum Master as a servant leader re-emphasizes the values of Scrum and helps to enhance teamwork, collaboration, motivation and value. Under the able servant leadership of the Scrum Master, individual members and the team will grow, become more confident and help in delivering value.  

Scrum Master – The Scrum Team’s Servant-Leader!

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Scrum Master – The Scrum Team’s Servant-Leader!

The term servant leader is synonymous with a Scrum Master. But what does it mean? The Scrum Master is a servant leader in Agile projects, but servant leadership goes far beyond Agile, and Scrum Masters serve more than just the team.

In this blog we attempt to look at the Scrum Master’s role as a servant leader, what the role entails and the responsibilities of the Scrum Master beyond the team, in context to the organization. 

What is servant-leadership?The Scrum Team's Servant-Leader

The term servant leadership was first coined by Robert Greenleaf in his article “The Servant as Leader”, in which he defined a servant leader as: 

The Servant-Leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That leader significantly differs from one who is leader first, may be due to the need to acquire power, material belonging, control and authority within the organization. 

Servant leadership is something very different from traditional leadership, which places the leader at the top of the hierarchy and the employees in the lower rung. Servant leadership, in a sense, is the opposite of traditional leadership, as it places the leader at the bottom of the hierarchy while employees are on the higher rungs. The leaders, in this case, are serving the people above them. 

Servant leadership refers to leaders who believe in serving people and the community that they are a part of, rather than accumulating power for themselves. This style of leadership emphasizes on helping subordinates better themselves, empowering employees and helping others perform to the best of their abilities.

Servant leadership does not prescribe telling employees what to do, instead it helps the workforce find their sense of ownership and unlock their potential to reach their goals. Servant leadership is all about empowering others, which when consistently done can raise morale, enhance productivity and reduce employee attrition.

Servant Leadership and Scrum

Scrum, in a way, is the very essence of servant leadership. Unlike traditional project management methodologies, it does not follow a top-down, hierarchical approach. Instead, decisions are lateral and happen with the involvement of the whole team. Scrum is the perfect approach in which to practice the concept of servant leadership. 

The 5 Scrum values of Openness, Respect, Commitment, Courage, and Focus, adhere to the philosophy of Servant Leadership. The Scrum Master plays a key role in the development of the product, the team and the organization. The Scrum Guide defines the servant leadership a Scrum Master’s role has to perform in context to the roles mentioned above. 

The Scrum Values that a Scrum Master practices have a ripple effect throughout the organization. The Scrum Master is seen as an evangelist for practicing and promoting Scrum in the enterprise.

The Agile Manifesto and servant-leadership

The Agile Manifesto states that one must value: 

  • Individuals and interactions over Process and tools 
  • Working software over Comprehensive documentation 
  • Customer collaboration over Contract negotiation 
  • Responding to change over Following a plan 

These again align with the values of servant leadership, which is all about putting people or employees first. 

The Agile Manifesto describes focusing on building projects around motivated individuals and giving them an environment of support, trust and collaboration—all characteristics of servant leadership.

Who Are These Servant Leaders?

The Scrum Guide defines the service provided by the Scrum Master as servant leadership. The Scrum Master selflessly provides servant leadership to the development team, product owner and the whole organization. By serving these entities, the Scrum Master can create a high performing team, a valuable product and an efficient organization that is able to meet business objectives and keep customers happy.  Scrum Master Role

Though the term Scrum Master may be deceptive, the Scrum Master is not a master of the team but in fact serves the team in order to ensure smooth functioning and productivity.

Servant Leadership and Scrum Master Roles of Servant LeadershipScrum Master Roles of Servant Leadership

  • Servant leadership:

The day-to-day activity of a Scrum Master involves servant leadership. Servant leadership in a scrum team involves performance planning, coaching, helping the team self- organize, resolving conflicts through conflict management, removing obstacles that hinder progress and serving the team. 

The Scrum Master, while practicing servant leadership, helps the team grow and mature and become independent enough to make their own decisions. Servant leadership in Scrum is all about making the team self-reliant, so they can cope with the pressures of the role. 

As a servant leader the Scrum Master creates a high performing team, helps them become collaborative and high performing in order to achieve goals and meet the requirements of the customer.  

  • Service to the Scrum Team: 

As a servant leader, the primary responsibility of the Scrum Master is to help the development team perform. They help the team perform to the best of their abilities by giving them an environment that is conducive to work in, encouraging them, guiding them and removing obstacles that may hinder progress. As a coach, the Scrum Master will guide the team on scrum processes and help them adhere to Agile values during the development of the product. 

The Scrum Master is responsible for the scrum team’s effectiveness, and they work tirelessly to ensure that the team is motivated, encouraged, creative and innovative. The Scrum Master through servant leadership helps the team improve Scrum practices which helps them become more productive and generate value. 

The Scrum Team’s role in motivating and helping the team comes through in the daily stand-up meetings that are arranged as part of the sprint. The Scrum Master encourages team members to share their grievances and progress made through the sprint. Team members can talk about obstacles that may be hindering their work and due cognizance will be taken up by the Scrum master to ensure that these obstacles are removed.  

According to the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master helps the Development Team by: 

  1. Coaching the team in becoming self-organized and cross-functional 
  2. Helping the Scrum Team focus on creating high-value increments by removing impediments 
  3. Helping the team deliver within the timeframe of the sprint 
  • Service to the Product Owner: 

The Scrum Master is a servant leader not just for the development team but also the Product Owner. While the Product Owner is primarily responsible for the product backlog, they cannot do this alone. The Scrum Master aids the development team and the Product Owner with effective product backlog management.

The Scrum Master is involved at every stage of the product backlog grooming, helping the product owner with Scrum events, product planning and to identify backlog items along with the development team. 

The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner define the product vision to the team.   

According to the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master helps the Product Owner by: 

  • Helping in Product Goal definition and Product Backlog management 
  • Helping the Scrum Team understand manage the Product Backlog items 
  • Setting up empirical product planning in complex environments and, 
  • Managing and facilitating stakeholder collaboration.

Scrum Master Service to the Product Owner

  • Service to the Organization: 

The Scrum Master is a coach and motivator not just for the development team but goes beyond the team to spread the awareness of Scrum in the entire organization. Scrum Masters coach and help teams and departments understand Scrum and develop an Agile mind-set. 

Besides servant leadership to the team a Scrum Master is also involved in promoting the ideas and values of Scrum. An organization can get an agile mind-set only if the entire organization adopts Scrum and not just a few teams. This is where the Scrum Master comes in, helping other teams not involved with Scum to gain the Agile mind-set, through training and coaching. The Scrum Master is an Agile evangelist and promotes Scrum enterprise-wide.Scrum Master Service to the Organization

According to Scrum.org the Scrum Master serves the organization by: 

  • Leading, training, and coaching the organization in adopting Scrum 
  • Planning and advising Scrum implementations within the organization 
  • Coaching employees and stakeholders in the way Scrum works 
  • Helping stakeholders work with Scrum Teams

Some Servant-Leader Behaviours for every Scrum MasterLeading by Serving Scrum Master as Servant Leader

  • Being empathetic: 

This is the foremost personality trait required for anyone wanting to become a Scrum Master. Your empathy will shine through in your interactions with the team members and your dealings with the stakeholders. You should be able to see problems from the point of view of each party and work towards solving these problems. 

  • Caring: 

As a caring and empathetic Scrum Master, your team will feel free to approach you and share their concerns. Providing a listening ear will make you more approachable. You will be able to more clearly understand the impediments that are stopping project progress and work towards providing a solution.  

  • Managing Conflicts: 

Not all team members will get along with each other and this can cause disruptions and problems within the team, lowering their productivity. As a Scrum Master you need to be great at conflict management, help others solve their problems, work with each other and create a high performing and harmonious team. 

  • Building relationships: 

You need to build a rapport with your team, the product owner and the stakeholders. This will help you communicate freely and help others approach you with their problems and issues. You need to build that relationship of trust and take everyone along on the journey of success.  

  • Being ethical: 

Ethics play an important role in software development, especially since software now controls every aspect of our lives. The product created should be free of malice and fraud. The Scrum Master should guide the team in delivering the product at a value and standard that is expected and agreed upon with the stakeholder. There should not be any shortcuts or concessions made on the quality of the product delivered as this will affect not just the Scrum Master and the team’s reputation but will cause a dent in the reputation of the organization.  

 Conclusion  

Servant leadership and the Scrum Master’s role is the backbone of Scrum. The Scrum Master as a servant leader re-emphasizes the values of Scrum and helps to enhance teamwork, collaboration, motivation and value. Under the able servant leadership of the Scrum Master, individual members and the team will grow, become more confident and help in delivering value.  

KnowledgeHut

KnowledgeHut

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KnowledgeHut is an outcome-focused global ed-tech company. We help organizations and professionals unlock excellence through skills development. We offer training solutions under the people and process, data science, full-stack development, cybersecurity, future technologies and digital transformation verticals.
Website : https://www.knowledgehut.com

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The PO maintains and manages the Product Backlog which determines the progress of the product development.The Scrum Master is the one who holds things together, helping the PO to define value, and communicating that value to the team so that they can deliver it. He or she creates and facilitates an environment that is conducive to Scrum success.The Scrum Team is a cross-functional, self-organising group of developers who are jointly responsible for product delivery. A team usually comprises not more than seven people, who are required to communicate and collaborate well together.  There is no hierarchy on a Scrum team, and the Scrum Master is considered their ‘servant leader’ and not their manager.Scrum Best PracticesWhether you’re a product owner, Scrum master or a team member, here is a set of best practices that can help to improve your efficiency and set you on the track to team success!Teamwork and meetings1. Create Product Backlog in conjunction with stakeholders.The stakeholders can contribute effectively to creating the product vision, and must be roped in for the inputs while creating the product backlog. During the negotiations on the backlog and while re-prioritising tasks, the team and stakeholders can come to a better understanding of the vision and what is expected to be delivered.2. Stakeholders must participate in Scrum meetings.When stakeholders and Product Owners participate in Scrum meetings, they will understand the workflow and the ways in which the team works. In turn, they can offer valuable feedback on the progress of work and about the deliverables during each sprint.3. Try not to regroup teams.When a team has worked together successfully on previous projects, they will already be sharing a rapport and understanding of each other’s capabilities. Rather than breaking the work rhythm, the best practice would be to keep productive teams together. This, of course, is not always possible as some projects will need regrouping due to different skill requirements.4. Work on team building.Team building is a practice that should never be neglected or sacrificed for want of time. A group that is cohesive will work better and faster, and the Scrum Master should use team-building techniques and activities to foster cooperation and collaboration.5. Don’t sit down during Stand-ups!.The reason why the daily meeting is called a Stand-up is because people are expected to stand up, and not sit down! Typically, meetings where everyone is standing up are shorter and get the expected results, while sit-down meetings tend to drag on and on.6. Nurture remote communication.When teams are distributed across geographies, or work-from-home mandates are in place, it’s important to set guidelines for remote communication. Important details could be missed out on calls, and critical notifications should be documented over a shared tracker so that they are flagged. Collaboration software makes it easy to set up notification messages to all the people concerned.Planning and estimates7. Keep stakeholder in the loop while estimating.It is always better that the principal stakeholder should be present during estimating meetings. If the team has any doubts, they can get cleared at once. What’s more, the stakeholder will understand the why, what and how behind estimation and this will help to establish trust and accountability.8. Plan a new sprint only when the backlog has enough items.Only when the product backlog has enough items for the next two sprints, is it time to plan the next one. Scope creep happens when there is uncontrolled growth in the scope of the project, because there was poorly defined scope for the next few sprints in the backlog.9. Set goals clearly.Unless the goals for each sprint are clearly laid out, it could become very difficult to prioritise the tasks in the backlog. The team and customers must align their objectives in order to set the goals that the team will achieve during each sprint. Based on the goals, the Product Owner in conjunction with the team will choose the tasks that must be completed during the sprint.10. Estimate using Planning Poker.Planning Poker is a proven, easy to use technique for estimating and planning. Using this simple technique, accurate and doable estimates can be achieved.11. Set time aside daily for risk mitigation.By planning a six hour day and leaving two hours aside each day for risk mitigation, it is possible not to fall short on time estimates. Many unexpected things could happen that turn timings awry, and by doing this it is possible to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances.12. Do not stretch or cut short sprint timings.The time frame for a sprint should not be stretched or curtailed, as otherwise the team will be tempted to neglect set timelines in the expectation that they will be reset. Even if a story is unexpectedly big and cannot be completed in a sprint, at the end of the agreed-upon timeframe the sprint should end, and the items that were not completed should be moved to the top of the backlog for the next sprint. At the same time, if the stories are completed ahead of time in a sprint, then some smaller stories could be added to help keep the schedules on track.Managing backlogs13. Keep sprint backlog separate from product backlog.The product backlog is updated regularly, while the sprint backlog is kept frozen and can be referred back to at any time. Do not mix up the two or combine them.14. Use task prioritisation techniques.Task prioritisation techniques such as MoSCoW, Business value approach, Kano model, Walking skeleton and so on can be used to prioritise tasks in the product backlog. Simple excel documents can list out backlog tasks and show the status and priority (must, could or should are most frequently used terms). Use the technique that makes best sense for your team, and that everyone is able to understand.15. Itemise user stories by assigning IDs.To cut through ambiguity, assign an ID to each user story so that the team knows exactly what is being discussed. Two user stories may sound similar but be different, and team members may think that a different story is being discussed.16. Map functional and technical dependencies.Dependencies could be functional (defined by stakeholders) or technical (defined by the engineering team). By mapping both types of dependencies, the workflow is smoothened and optimised, and bottlenecks can be identified and removed.17. Use a Scrum board.Many people work better when they have visual aids to guide them. A Scrum board is a very useful tool in this regard. The board is a visual representation of User stories, tasks that are yet to start, in progress and done. It can also indicate blocks, testing tasks and reviews from the Product Owner.  Tools like JIRA and Trello are very easy to use and understand, and offer great value to the team.Tracking and predicting18. Use sprint burndown charts.Burndown charts that visually depict the progress of the sprint are a great visualisation tool that detects issues when they appear, and helps to resolve them before they escalate. Completed tasks per day are mapped against the planned tasks, giving an indication if the progress goes off track.19. Use release burndown charts.Release burndown charts depict the sprints that are needed to complete, or release, the product. The team can decide whether they need to adjust the timeframe or not. Using these charts is a good practice to follow, especially if the product backlog was updated over the course of the project with new user requirements.20. Chart velocity.By calculating the velocity, the progress of work can be charted against initial estimates, and used to better predict team commitments and results. If the velocity is changing a great deal, then the sprint planning must be revisited and made more reliable.21. Invest in good quality software.Tools that are built for Agile teams can help with project planning, time tracking and measurement of metrics. JIRA, Toggl, Git, and Slack are popular tools that are very supportive and can help to streamline and optimise workflows.To sum up…Implementing a smooth, streamlined Agile workflow could take a lot of planning and strategizing, but with the right mindset, approach and collaborative tools, it doesn’t have to be difficult!  Each team is different, and you might need to experiment with a few approaches and Scrum best practices till you find the one that’s right for you.After all, the main premise of Agile is that you should be flexible, and adapt when the need arises!
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Top 21 Scrum Best Practices for Efficient Agile Wo...

Scrum, arguably the most popular Agile framework i... Read More

Product Owner vs Scrum Master: Key Differences

Scrum Master vs Product Owner: The two most important roles in a Scrum team. Though they seem similar, there are significant differences between the two. The pandemic has accelerated your organization’s need to go agile. But in your quest for digital transformation which roles will you hire for? The Scrum Master vs Product Owner has been a long standing debate, despite the fact that both are indispensable roles in the Scrum software development methodology and play their part in Agile transformations. Let’s look at these two roles, their specialities, differences and contributions to the digital landscape. Who is a Scrum Master? “The Scrum Master is accountable for establishing Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide. They do this by helping everyone understand Scrum theory and practice, both within the Scrum Team and the organization. The Scrum Master is accountable for the Scrum Team’s effectiveness. They do this by enabling the Scrum Team to improve its practices, within the Scrum framework.”—Scrum.org Who is a Product Owner? “The Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Scrum Team. The Product Owner is one person, not a committee. The Product Owner may represent the needs of many stakeholders in the Product Backlog. Those wanting to change the Product Backlog can do so by trying to convince the Product Owner”—Scrum.org Scrum Master vs Product Owner The Scrum Master and Product Owner are different roles with different responsibilities, yet they complement each other. The Scrum master should support the Product Owner in every step possible.   There should be an amicable relationship between the Product Owner and the Scrum master. Disputes may arise between the two, if the roles are not clarified. The Scrum Master’s main aim is to ensure project success, by assisting the product owner and the team in using the right process and adhering to Agile principles. Scrum Master Product Owner Servant leadership: The day to day activity of a Scrum Master involves servant leadership where they are involved in performance planning, coaching, self- organization, removing obstacles, resolving conflicts and serving the team. Stakeholder satisfaction: The first responsibility of the product owner is customer satisfaction and this they carry out by ensuring that customer requirements are given priority and there is transparency between development team and stakeholders.   The product owner guarantees stakeholder satisfaction by ensuring product success, and building a product which meets business requirements.   Coach and teacher:  Agile coaching is a Scrum Master’s primary skill. Teaching Scrum skills, especially to new Scrum teams is a huge part of the Scrum Master’s responsibility.   They need to ensure that the team is working as per Scrum and Agile principles and following processes. Conflict resolver: Product owners may often come across unreasonable or difficult to handle stakeholders.   Having conflict resolution skills will come in handy to diffuse any untoward situations or escalations that may arise with stakeholders or development team members.     Technical familiarity:  There is no doubt that having some technical competence will help a Scrum Master be better at the job.   Technical acumen will help a Scrum Master remove any impediments the team faces and build better products by providing the correct tools and techniques. Collaborator: A product owner is a great storyteller, which means that they are able to explain the vision of the product to the developers.   They need not necessarily have the technical skills to prepare user stories but they can effectively collaborate with those who can.     Organizational skills:   As someone who leads and guides the Scrum team, having good organizational skills is a must-have in a Scrum Master’s repertoire.   SMs must ensure that work is allocated correctly, there is no slippage of tasks and deadlines are met.   Prioritization skills: The Product Owner must have inherent prioritization skills in order to prioritise items on the backlog. Soft Skills: A Scrum Master should have great interpersonal skills, should be a conflict manager with the ability to solve internal and external conflicts, should be an excellent communicator and must have empathy towards team members. Soft Skills:  Good communication skills and being business savvy are paramount to being successful as a Product Owner.   Having to work with stakeholders and other parties means that Product Owners must be able to communicate the status of the product and other technical knowledge that the customer may wish to know.   Similarly, they must be able to communicate to the team about the vision of the product and stakeholder expectations.   Scrum knowledge: What is a Scrum Master without Scrum knowledge? The primary responsibility of the Scrum Master is to guide the development team on all things Scrum and make sure that the development of the product is taking place according to Scrum and Agile principles and values.   This will ensure that all benefits that are associated with Scrum and Agile are realised during the course of the project.   Scrum knowledge: The product owner must have knowledge of the product roadmap, release management, product backlog management, sprint planning, review and retrospectives, in order to maximise product value. Scrum Master vs Product Owner – A Responsibility Comparison Scrum Master Product Owner Aiding the team: As a servant leader, the primary responsibility of the Scrum Master is to help the development team perform. This includes removing obstacles that may impede the team from performing. Defining the vision:   The Product Owner’s main task is to define the vision of the product to the development team. This involves helping them understand the reason for the product being built, its usefulness for the clients and stakeholders, how it can evolve in the future and what it is expected to achieve. Giving the development team a correct vision of the product will help them work better. Helping team members do Scrum:   A Scrum Master is well versed with Scrum processes and tools. It’s the Scrum Master’s primary responsibility to ensure that the team adheres to Scrum processes during the development of the product. Being the bridge between stakeholders and team:   As the go-between the development team and the customers, it is the Product Owner’s responsibility to get each party what they need to be happy. In the development team’s case, the product owner has to ensure that they have understood without any ambiguity, what needs to be built and with respect to the stakeholders, product owner has to ensure that they get the product that they have asked for.   At the same time, the product owner must maintain a correct balance between the two and ensure that there is complete transparency and there is no over commitment on requirements to either side.   Arranges stand up meetings: The daily stand-up meetings are an essential part of Scrum. The Scrum Master facilitates these meetings and ensures that all issues are addressed and the team is able to perform towards reaching its sprint goal. Meet with all those involved with the product: This includes meeting stakeholders, development team and all those who wish to discuss the product roadmap. These discussions could range from current product backlog items to future releases to any technical information the stakeholder may need. Sets up an environment where the team can perform more effectively: The development team develops the product, and a happy team means a well-built product and satisfied customers.   The team must be allowed to work in an environment that is free of distractions and conducive to innovation and research.   The Scrum Master makes sure that such an environment is provided to the team. Maximises Product Value:   The Product Owner maximises product value by identifying what items in the product backlog need to be tackled first. Continuous prioritization and ordering of product backlog is an important responsibility of the product owner to ensure that high priority work gets into production first for release. Helps Product Owner with product backlog:   The Scrum Master aids the development team and the Product Owner with effective product backlog management.   This they do by facilitating Scrum events, product planning and by helping the team to identify backlog items. Manages Product Backlog:   Creating and updating the backlog is a major part of the product owner’s responsibility. They have to sequence, prioritise and ensure that the development time is not wasting time or resources in doing the wrong tasks. Updating the product backlog is an on-going responsibility of the Product Owner.   Promoting Scrum in the enterprise:   The Scrum Master has a greater responsibility than that of leading the team, and that is the promotion of Scrum and transformation of the entire organization.   This they do by coaching and helping teams and departments understand Scrum and develop an Agile mind-set. Explaining Scrum:   You may be working with a team that is new to Scrum or stakeholders who are not aware of Scrum processes.   As a Product Owner you will be expected to help your team understand about the Scrum processes that will be followed during every stage of product development while also helping the stakeholders understand how Scrum is being used to develop the product.   Here are some of the frequently asked questions around Scrum Master vs  Product Owner Which is the one most important service a Scrum Master provides to the Product Owner? The most important help a Scrum Master gives the Product Owner is in the management of the product backlog.   While the primary responsibility of the product backlog management lies with the Product Owner, the Scrum Master pitches in when there are too many things to handle and the Product Owner is unable to perform all activities simultaneously. The Scrum Master is also the perfect bridge between the Product Owner and the development team, helping the team understand the vision of the Product Owner and helping them realise this vision. Are Scrum Master and Product Owner the same person? This is a highly debated question in the Agile world. Some experts are of the view that there are clear differences between the two roles and hence there should be two individuals to manage these two roles.   The Product Owner should have an overall vision of the client’s requirements. Due to this reason, the Scrum Master needs the Product Owner; whereas the project team requires the Scrum Master to help them deliver by creating an atmosphere conducive to development and innovation. Who validates the product delivered in Scrum? The product backlog is ordered on the basis of the value of the items being delivered. Though the value is influenced by several factors including the complexity, risks associated and criticality, these are not the basis for calculating value.   The value of the product is validated by the Product Owner who orders the product backlog. Conclusion The Scrum Master and the Product Owner have mostly overlapping roles and responsibilities as well as overlapping skills.    The Scrum Master ensures project success, by assisting the product owner and the team in using the right Scrum processes for creating the end product and establishing the Agile principles. The Product Owner interacts with the users and customers, Stakeholders, the Development team and the Scrum Master to deliver a successful product.    The Product Owner and the Scrum Master are both invaluable members of a Scrum project team, as they build the perfect relation with the development team and strive to deliver the best results.
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Product Owner vs Scrum Master: Key Differences

Scrum Master vs Product Owner: The two most import... Read More