Tales of the Bizarro Scrum – Are You Sure It’s Going to Take this Long?

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Scrum Master: “Are you sure it’s going to take this long? The product owner wants it done in the next Sprint and I already told her it won’t be a problem.”

I have 3 issues with this kind of statement. First, it seems that the Scrum Master is acting as the intermediary between the Product Owner and the Scrum Development team. Second, the Scrum Master is making commitments on behalf of the team. Third, the Scrum Master is pressuring the team on their estimates.

As a ScrumMaster, your role is to get the Product Owner to communicate and collaborate directly with the Scrum Development team and not be the go-between. So as a ScrumMaster you should not be relaying the product owner needs to the team or making promises on behalf of the development team to the product owner. Instead, you need to ensure that the development team hears directly from the Product Owner and understands the needs, importance, and business case of a user story. Then have the development team and Product Owner negotiate and collaborate to figure out what can be accomplished within the timebox and based on any upcoming deadlines. No one can pressure the development team on the estimates. The team is empowered to determine how long something is going to take and how much of it they can take on in each Sprint. We can however negotiate on the scope of a feature or requirement to get the most valuable part of it out sooner and then iterate and increment to get other aspects delivered later.

Remember the Agile values and principles. In particular, “Customer collaboration over Contract Negotiation”, and “Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.”