I don't think you are far off, and that we are about to become violent in our agreement, but are separated by a common misuse of the language.
If the PO is the person accountable to the organization for the decisions about how the product works and they rely on SME's to act in their behest and as proxies, then IMO, the PO is a person who has delegated their authority to the SME. If this is the case then we are in agreement on all but the moot issue as to is the PO a person or a persona /role.
IF however the degree to which the SME's decisions are independent of the PO is recognized and the SME is held accountable for the product's functionality, then I agree with your concept of the PO as a role.
The only point I wonder about is if this situation wanders around between the two and your teams are, in fact, making the business decisions and then moving the person or the role to agree with them. I would be concerned if that were the case.
To some degree, many of those SME's act as the PO's proxy from time to time, and we try to establish the understanding with those SME's that it is up to them to make sure that they keep their PO's up to date on decisions that they
have made, and to follow up with the PO if they need help making decisions
We remind them of this when we discuss something potentially contentious.
If an SME tells us that they are too busy to help us, we'll usually arrange
a meeting with the SME, his supervisor, some Team members and the Scrum
Master. In most cases the supervisor and the PO are the same person, which
simply makes it easier to make a case for the supervisor to clear the SME's
schedule for us.
Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another. ~Walter Elliott, The Spiritual Life
The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground. ~Author Unknown
-------------- Original message --------------
> I think you are confusing the *role* of Product Owner and the person who
> plays that role.
> In Scrum the Product Owner has one task: To prioritize the Product Backlog.
> That's it, nothing else.
> Of course it is useful to have a product owner who at least has some
> influence over the schedules of people outside the Team that the Team needs
> to use as resources. The Product Owner is probably the same person who
> decides whether the product goes live, and is probably involved in core
> business decisions affecting the Product. Its probably a really good thing
> if the Product Owner is what would traditionally be know as the "Corporate
> Project Sponsor". None of those things is particularly Scrummy, however.
> It sounds to me like you're postulating a PO that rolls his sleeves up and
> gets involved with the Team on a day to day basis and acts as a Subject
> Matter Expert to assist the team with the analysis and design of the
> features. That's not a bad idea, but certainly not mandatory to implement
> Scrum. The most important thing, though, is that when the PO does that,
> he's not acting in the role of PO, but simply as a Team member who's skill
> set is that he's an SME.
> As to the other stuff about getting people outside the team to show up and
> participate; that sounds to me like the kind of issue that the Scrum Master
> is supposed to deal with under the heading of "Clearing Impediments".
> In our company, we're using Scrum to manage projects that build and enhance
> systems for internal consumption by a number of departments. We've built a
> database which organizes the PB by department, project and task and is
> maintained by those departments for the most part. At regular intervals,
> the Senior Management Team gets together and goes over the PB (at a high
> level) and hammer out who's projects have the highest priority and should
> get the Team's attention. Then the Team sits down with the various PO's
> for each department and sort out the priorities for the projects on the go.
> It varies from department to department, but we usually don't have a lot of
> interaction with the PO's during the Sprints because the SME's for the
> various SB items are usually other people in their department. To some
> degree, many of those SME's act as the PO's proxy from time to time, and we
> try to establish the understanding with those SME's that it is up to them
> to make sure that they keep their PO's up to date on decisions that they
> have made, and to follow up with the PO if they need help making decisions.
> We remind them of this when we discuss something potentially contentious.
> If an SME tells us that they are too busy to help us, we'll usually arrange
> a meeting with the SME, his supervisor, some Team members and the Scrum
> Master. In most cases the supervisor and the PO are the same person, which
> simply makes it easier to make a case for the supervisor to clear the SME's
> schedule for us.
> By and large, we find that this works very well. The Sr. Mgmt Team ensures
> that we're focused on corporate priorities at a big picture level and the
> PO's handle the details. Most of the PO's have built the confidence in the
> Team that they'll actually deliver what they've committed to by the end of
> each Sprint, which means that they're less likely to meddle with priorities
> during the Sprint. They also have come to realize that, "We'll put that
> suggestion in the PB" doesn't mean that we're saying "No", and that they'll
> have an opportunity to get it inserted into a Sprint in the near future.
> We've been running 30 day Sprints, which fits well with the pace of change
> in our business.
> Dave Barrett,
> Lawyers' Professional Indemnity Company
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