Product Owner or ScrumMaster?

I have had a bit of revelation moment today. I have been thinking and evaluating about my experience with Scrum. For a long time now, I am been in the role of ScrumMaster, and filling in for Product Owner due to accessibility issue. I have come to the conclusion that, it’s really a recipe for failed Scrum implementation.

There needs to be a healthy tension between the ScrumMaster and the Product Owner. The ScrumMaster focuses inwardly, beating the drums of Scrum and guiding the team on the agile path, while protecting it from changes. The Product Owner, quoting an excellent article on Scrum Alliance by Roman Pichler, needs:

  • a thorough understanding of the customer needs
  • an active stakeholder management
  • a basic knowledge of how software is developed and deployed

By me trying to fulfill two roles, the friendly tension and accountability between the two roles disappear. I am ending up not performing both at my satisfaction level. To compound the issue, being the functional manager for the team as well makes it even less effective, when the tendency is look at me for decisions.

I have come to the conclusion that at my current role in the organization, I am better fitted to the Product Owner than the ScrumMaster. I am most accessible to the team, and I have vested interest in the effectiveness of my team’s products (as a functional manager, I am most concerned about departmental resource allocations and utilizations). Now I just need to find a suitable person to be the ScrumMaster…