Once upon a time, Martians and Venusians met, had happy relationships together and accepted their differences to work towards delivering a project. Then came Agile and amnesia set in! ScrumMasters and Product Owners forgot they were from different planets. All of a sudden, Product Owners, ScrumMasters and the team members found themselves sitting around a table discussing user stories and potential solutions.

This unprecedented access and communication created a whole new set of challenges… Sometimes it feels like our team members are from different planets, as if one is from Mars and the other is from Venus. You may have heard of Mars and Venus in the bedroom but this presentation will be talking about Mars and Venus in the team room.

Based on my many years of experience in coaching and working with people in these roles, this presentation will describe why and how ScrumMasters and Product Owners react differently to various situations in a team room. The key is in understanding how ScrumMasters and Product Owners think and operate.

And if ScrumMasters and Product Owners are from different planets, does it make sense for the two roles to be performed by the same person? Or does every Agile team even need both of these roles? Attend this talk to find out!

This talk will further explore how we can counteract the differences in the communication, the emotional and the business needs of the two roles, and tips and techniques to promote a greater understanding between these two of the most important roles in any Agile team.


Outline/Structure of the Talk

Light-hearted humor will be used to make the analogy between relationships in the bedroom and the team room. This talk will take us through the journey of identifying the key differences between the mindsets of a ScrumMaster and that of a Product Owner.

This will then lead to talking about how both of these critical roles can operate in tandem to keep the entire team happy and humming – we are talking about ScrumMasters, Product Owners and Scrum Team members here!

  • Introduction and setting the scene – Mars and Venus in the bedroom and the team room (5 mins)
  • What does a ScrumMaster really want? (5 mins)
  • What does a Product Owner really want? (5 mins)

This talk will dig a lot deeper than just describing the two roles to expose the real difficulties with these roles and highlight the key challenges teams face today.

  • What can the ScrumMaster and the Product Owner do to make their teams more effective? (15 mins)

How can we ensure that we have one happy team? Using real-world examples, this talk will also offer a set of guidelines and some unconventional techniques to help all members of the Scrum team to work together in the most optimal fashion.

  • Conclusion (5 mins)
  • Q & A (5 mins)

This session will keep the audience engaged throughout and will be highly-interactive with the audience.

Further clarification:

The emergence of Agile over the last decade or so has brought significant changes to work practices and the approaches within projects. In light of these changes, this presentation will explore what has and needs to change in our understanding of how different roles operate within a project team.

More specifically:

• Delegation of product owner responsibilities continues to put a deep divide between development teams and their customers.

• Lack of understanding of the Scrum Master role leads to Scrum Masters treating Product Owners like a difficult customer.

• Product Owners are human and some will want more features in trade for quality. Sometimes they won't even realize that is what they are asking for.

• Not understanding the factors that determine whether to keep these two roles separate or combined.

Although all roles in a Scrum team should have the same goal: ‘Produce valuable software now and in the future’, we are finding that the interests of the Product Owners and the Scrum Masters in many teams are in conflict.

The two ideals, Quality and Concept, do clash time and time again. The two roles are designed to challenge each other. The conflict between the two, assuming it remains a productive struggle, results in the right features being done on a schedule that is realistic for the team.

It is a popular opinion that an Agile project is a constant confrontation between the Scrum Master and the Product Owner. This then leads to people asking:

  •    ‘How can we possibly work together harmoniously as one team?’
  •    and ‘How could these two roles be possibly combined in one person?’

Does this person have to be of some special breed that is immune to the conflicts of software teams? And do the rest of us need distinct roles to balance our selfish interests?

The key point to get across to the audience is to understand the risks and the compromise involved. Along with the key takeaways outlined in my submission, this session will also leave the audience with some thought provoking questions that they need to think of when working in an Agile environment.

Learning Outcome

  • Offer a practical guide for both ScrumMasters and Product Owners on how to work in tandem to get their teams to deliver the maximum Business Value to their Customers.
  • Proven ways for ScrumMasters and Product Owners to communicate and relate better by acknowledging differences between them.
  • Practical guides on how to reduce conflicts, and techniques for team members who want to have a more rewarding relationship with their ScrumMasters and Product Owners.

Target Audience

This talk will be packed with practical examples and real life stories well targeted towards beginner and intermediate levels. This talk will be suitable for anyone who is or wants to be working in an effective and efficient Agile team.

schedule Submitted 7 years ago

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