Scrum Rules: The Scrum Team Includes Three Roles

June 19, 2020
4 minute read

There are three roles on a Scrum Team, no more and no less. These roles are: Scrum Master, Product Owner, and the Development Team Members. It is critical to have all three roles present on the Scrum Team to get all needed responsibilities taken care of in an effective way.

The Product Owner is responsible for the product and how the team understands that product. The Scrum Master is responsible for the use of Scrum in the organization and team, as well as removing any obstacles that are raised by members of the Scrum Team. The Development Team Members are responsible for getting the work done by self-organizing and finding ways to improve their own process and work. Without one of these key roles, the team would be missing a key focus and job. As well, Scrum specifically disallows any other roles on the Scrum Team. A person who has an official role of Tester cannot be on a Team. However, the same person, if given the official role of Team Member can be on a Team. If people have their official titles, performance evaluations etc. done in their traditional roles, it hinders self-organizing and causes conflicts of interest. A team is not a Scrum Team until those old roles are eliminated.

In most organizations there are two key supports that a Scrum Team needs to be able to adopt this rule. The first is visible, consistent support from managers for any action which leads to material success in delivering results. In other words, a bottom-line results-oriented work environment. If you hear a managers say something like “I don’t care how, just get it done!” you are probably in this sort of environment. The second key support is the willingness of all Team Members to learn new skills that are relevant to the success of the team in reaching its goals. With these two supports in place, the members of a Scrum Team should affirm to each other their Scrum roles, and mutually commit to leaving any other roles and titles outside the Scrum Team environment. This can be a discussion held during a Sprint Retrospective or during a Sprint Planning meeting. The Scrum Master of the team then needs to coach the team in this new approach by reminding people of their agreement, and noticing when people refer to each other by their old roles. For teams that have made this sort of agreement, a common approach to blur the skill-based role lines is to actively cross-train through “promiscuous pairing”. Pairing is when two people work together on the same problem. Promiscuous pairing is when all the members of the team actively switch pairing partners in order to work with all the other team members multiple times per Sprint.

The Scrum Team consists of a Product Owner, the Development Team, and a Scrum Master. — The Scrum Guide

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Bruce Power
Capital One
Equitable Life of Canada
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