The Product Owner and Scrum Master Brain Transplant! Mwuhahahaha!!!

Imagine you are a Mad Agile Scientist and have a diabolical experiment to conduct - what would happen if you exchanged the brains of a Product Owner and Scrum Master? Mwuhahahaha!!! How would the body of a Product Owner with the brain of a Scrum Master act? And vice versa?

Perhaps the Scrum Master would now treat the team like a backlog? This Scrum Master would be focused on value and maintaining a coaching backlog of team and person improvements. This Scrum Master is refining the team, crafting a group that delivers value.

And perhaps the Product Owner might treat the backlog like a team? Rather than backlog refining, they coach the backlog. They would be focused on nurturing, protecting, and empowering the backlog. The backlog might transform from an irritation into a labor of love.

Although this experiment sounds terrible, this change of perspective might be what you need to reanimate your dead team or backlog.

Join the fun and come learn what horrifying results await!

 
 

Outline/Structure of the Talk

2' - Mad Agile Scientist introduction

15 ' - Treat the backlog like a SM

  • Backlog coaching instead of backlog refining
  • Nurture
  • Protect
  • Remove impediments
  • Experiment
  • Conflict resolution
  • Happy

15 ' - Treat the team like a PO

  • Team refining instead of team coaching
  • Backlog of individual and team improvements
  • Create and prioritize stories
  • Determine value and AC
  • Have a global DoD
  • Demonstrate
  • Improvement feedback loop

3' - Conclusion

Remainder of total timebox (45') - Q&A, approx 10'

Relevance:

  • The Product Owner can immediately apply soft skills to humanize their backlog
  • The Scrum Master can immediately apply the concept of growing people and teams via a backlog

Presentation History:

Presentation history of this session:

  • XP 2018 Porto
  • Lean Agile Systems Thinking Melbourne 2018
  • Agile2018 San Diego
  • Regional Scrum Gathering Sydney 2018
  • Agile Tauranga
  • Regional Scrum Gathering Durban 2018

Alex's conference and presentation history:

  • Agile Open Northwest 2012 - Session Leader
  • Übermind ÜnConference 2012 - Session Leader
  • MobileUXCamp Seattle 2012 - Session Leader
  • Seattle Kaizen Camp 2012 - Session Leader
  • MAQCon 2012 - Cofounder
  • MobileUXCamp Seattle 2013 - Session Leader
  • Seattle Kaizen Camp 2013 - Session Leader
  • MobileUXCamp Seattle 2014 - Session Leader
  • Seattle Kaizen Camp 2014 - Session Leader
  • Construx Software Executive Summit 2014 - Facilitator
  • Shell Developers Summit 2015 - Keynote Speaker
  • Scrum Coaching Retreat Seattle 2015 - Volunteer Team
  • Un:Conference Canberra 2016 - Session Leader
  • Agile2016 - Volunteer Team
  • UX Australia 2016 - Speaker, Reviewer
  • Agile Coach Camp Sydney 2016 - Session Leader
  • Agile Tour Sydney 2016 - Facilitator
  • StartCon 2016 - Pitch Competitor
  • Global Scrum Gathering San Diego 2017 - Reviewer
  • Global Scrum Gathering Singapore 2017 - Speaker (Rating = 4.5/5)
  • Agile Coach Camp Sydney 2017 - Session Leader
  • Scrum Gathering India 2017 - Speaker, Facilitator, Coaches' Clinic
  • Lean Agile Systems Thinking Canberra 2017 - Organizer, Speaker (Rating = 5/5)
  • Lean Agile Systems Thinking Melbourne 2017 - Speaker (Rating = 5/5), Facilitator (Rating = 4.4/5)
  • Lean Agile Systems Thinking Sydney 2017 - Speaker
  • Scrum Gathering Melbourne 2017 - Speaker (Rating = 2nd highest session at conference), Coaches' Clinic
  • AgileNZ 2017 - Speaker
  • Scrum Gathering South Africa 2017 - Speaker
  • Business and Enterprise Agility Conference India 2017 - Speaker
  • Business Agility Conference NYC 2018 - Facilitator
  • 1st Conference Melbourne 2018 - Facilitator
  • Lean Agile Systems Thinking Sydney 2018 - Speaker
  • Agile Impact Jakarta 2018 - Speaker, Workshop Facilitator
  • Business Agility Conference Sydney 2018 - Reviewer, Facilitator of Facilitators, Organizer
  • Global Scrum Gathering Austin 2019 - Reviewer
  • XP 2019 Montreal - Industry and Practice Co-Chair
  • Agile2019 - Workshop Facilitator
  • Agile India 2019 - Workshop Facilitator, Speaker
  • LAST Melbourne 2019 - Speaker
  • LAST Sydney - Upcoming Workshop Facilitator
  • Scrum South Africa 2019 - Upcoming Speaker

Speaking References:

Videos:

Learning Outcome

  • Product Owners will learn that they can love their backlogs. This shift in attitude and how they view their work can transform their tedious backlog maintenance into a labor of love. For example, a PO may change the meeting title from "Backlog Refining" to "Backlog Coaching".
  • Scrum Masters will learn that it's OK to push the team to grow. This change in perspective will empower the Scrum Master to focus on value and encouraging the best they can get from their team. For example, a Scrum Master may deploy backlogs targeted to improving skills of team members.
  • All attendees will be introduced to the concept that traditional role paradigms can be shifted.

Target Audience

Scrum Masters, Product Owners, Agile Coaches

Prerequisites for Attendees

None

schedule Submitted 10 months ago

Public Feedback

comment Suggest improvements to the Speaker
  • Naresh Jain
    By Naresh Jain  ~  6 months ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Alex,

    This is indeed an interesting proposal.

    When I look at your learning outcomes, it states:

    • Product Owners will learn that they can love their backlogs - How did you arrive at the hypothesis that POs don't love their backlogs? Also, should the POs focus on the backlog (means) rather than outcome (delighted users and healthy business growth)?
    • Scrum Masters will learn that it's OK to push the team to grow - How did you arrive at the hypothesis that SMs don't push their teams to grow?

    My hypothesis is (concern) that most POs and SMs will say they are already doing what you are asking for (even if we assume they are not.) Hence the session will not appeal to them. If they show up, then it means they are accepting that they are not. How do you plan to address this issue?

    • Alex Sloley
      By Alex Sloley  ~  6 months ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Naresh!

      How did you arrive at the hypothesis that POs don't love their backlogs? - I wouldn't say this about a great PO, but bad PO's definitely tend to have this anti pattern! You wouldn't think it's possible for a team to run out of "ready" work but I have sent his happen many times over the years at a variety of clients. Typically because the PO doesn't put any effort into maintaining their backlog, AKA "loving" their backlog.

      Also, should the POs focus on the backlog (means) rather than outcome (delighted users and healthy business growth)? - If a PO can't maintain a basic backlog, then outcomes are probably never going to be considered at all! Basic backlog maintenance is kinda a pre-requisite of the outcomes.

      How did you arrive at the hypothesis that SMs don't push their teams to grow? - Similar to the same conclusion for PO's, SM's may exhibit this anti-pattern for a variety of reasons. Whether they are lazy, don't know any better, or perhaps complacent, this anti-pattern can be rampant in an organization where the value of the Scrum Master role is not understood.

      If they show up, then it means they are accepting that they are not. How do you plan to address this issue? - A coach's job is to provide the mirror that shows the truth to people in a way that helps them in a positive way. So whether they show up acknowledging any of their own anti-patterns is probably unlikely. However, for those attendees who attend, are willing to considerate relevance of this presentation, they may be able to realize how they might strive to be better than they already are. It's more an aspirational presentation! I try to use humor to make the process light-hearted and entertaining.

  • Oana Juncu
    By Oana Juncu  ~  8 months ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Alex,

    Thank you for four interesting Provoking Frankenstein-ish proposal ;).

    Without trying to change your original touch, would it be ok with  review the statements of you learning Outcomes in an inviting to shift perspective rather than prescriptive ( "PO should love", "Scrum Master will know it'OK" style?  

    Kind regards,

    Oana

     


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    As agile coaches we are often asked by companies to give them what they believe are shortcuts to success. They are scared or unwilling to put in the hard work and want a playbook from someone who was successful to be laid out for them to follow in their footsteps. Explaining why this is not something that will work is often seen as a reason to mistrust coaches. They think we aren’t giving them the quick path because we are just in it for the money. I found a way to help me describe this in a way that makes my clients feel more at ease. Everyone can relate to cooking shows about starting off as a home cook (non-agile organization) and what it involves to become a master chef (an agile organization).

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    Sally Sloley - Personal Kanban: Making your life better, one sticky note at a time.

    Sally Sloley
    Sally Sloley
    Agile Coach
    Sally Sloley
    schedule 10 months ago
    Sold Out!
    45 Mins
    Case Study
    Beginner

    Kanban isn’t just for work. How I reluctantly learned to use Kanban to get my personal life in order and why I’ve never been happier.