Darryl Sherborne on supporting Product Owners through an Agile adoption

We often work within environments where the “vanilla” Agile approaches are insufficient. In this episode we explore what happens when more traditional organizations are adopting Agile. We talk about the role of the Product Owner in traditional organizations and the critical role that the Scrum Master plays in supporting the Product Owner.

In this episode we discuss the importance of Pilot projects in traditional organizations and what we can do to make sure they succeed.

About Darryl Sherborne

Darryl is an IT professional specialising in Kaizen (continuous improvement), Agile delivery and coaching, Lean Thinking implementations and more recently applications of DevOps and Data Science. Darryl can also be found singing in rock/pop choirs, and watching or reading anything in the realm of Sci-Fi / Marvel.

You can link with Darryl Sherborne on LinkedIn and connect with Darryl Sherborne on Twitter.

You can also find out more about Darryl’s work at his company website: https://www.kaizenjoy.co.uk/

Jem D’jelal and the temptation of taking on the Product Owner role as well as the Scrum Master Role

As an unlikely Scrum Master Jem went through a journey of adapting to a new industry, and a new role. In his eagerness to bring value to the organization and teams he worked with he focused on taking on more responsibility. But is that a good idea? What happens when the Scrum Master also takes the Product Owner role? Listen in as we discuss the anti-pattern of the Scrum Master that is also the Product Owner.

About Jem D’jelal

Jem trained to be a social worker, but ended up dropping out & joining the dark side instead : investment banking 🙂 In a funny way, Jem was led back to his passion – helping people. This happened when he was introduced to Scrum in 2006, and has been a career Scrum Master since. He calls himself “nomadic”, having had almost 30 roles in 10 + years. He does say that he will be searching for a home at some point. Some of Jem’s other passions involve running, a part time mentoring charity for repeating youth offenders in North London & callisthenics.

You can link with Jem D’Jelal on LinkedIn and connect with Jem D’Jelal on Twitter.

How to scale up the Product Owner role: tackling the role with the help of the whole team

When a product grows and becomes a success, so will the demands on the Product Owner.

There will be more stakeholders interested in the product, which leads to more meetings. The number of teams developing the product will grow, which will increase the number of meetings and daily questions to the Product Owner.

The more successful the product becomes, the harder it is to manage that product with one single Product Owner.

It is no surprise that most successful products seem to be constantly affected by the lack of time on the part of the PO. However, that’s not the only cause for a PO to be pressed for time. In smaller companies that are adding products to their offering, we often need to start working on a new service or product before a new PO can be hired. On top of that, the knowledge that is already in the PO’s head will be hard to transfer to a new PO, so hiring more Product Owners may even be the wrong thing to do.

Read on for more details and the full article download.

Continue reading How to scale up the Product Owner role: tackling the role with the help of the whole team

The “Coach Your Product Owner course v2.0” is near, which modules do you want us to make freely available?

When we launched the “Coach your Product Owner” course v1.0 we made 3 modules freely available for the duration of the launch. These were:

  • How to coach Product Owners, a course for Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters
  • ACTIONABLE Metrics vs. Vanity metrics: helping Product Owners define success and measure it!
  • Product Owner Anti-patterns: Product Owner coaching for Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches

Now we are preparing version 2.0 of our “Coach your Product Owner” course and want your input. Which modules should we make freely available?

You get to choose the ones that you need the most, and access those free for a limited time! 🙂

Please help us by filling in the survey below.

Product Goal-Setting: How Scrum Masters can onboard a new or beginner Product Owner

Photo by Mohamed Hassan @ Pixabay

Why do we have daily meetings? Why do I need to be involved with the team every day? Why can’t I just give you the requirements document and concentrate on other tasks?

This blog is part of Module 2 of the Coach your Product Onwer v2.0 video course.

The Anti-Patterns When A Product Owner Is New To The Team, The Product And To Scrum

These are just some of the questions that Product Owners that are new to Scrum will ask. But sometimes we need to onboard Product Owners that are new to Scrum, new to the Product and new to the team. That’s not an easy task.

The Product Owner may not have any technical knowledge of the product or the understanding of the business the product supports. When a Product Owner is new to the team, and the collaboration habits have not yet developed. For example, he may be tempted to just go away and write all the User Stories in isolation or with a Business Analyst, and never involve the team. Which later leads to the “tell the team what to do, and disappear” anti-pattern. Continue reading Product Goal-Setting: How Scrum Masters can onboard a new or beginner Product Owner

The Product Owner Sprint Checklist: A Tool to Help you Deal With an Overly Busy or Absent PO

The overly busy or absent Product Owner is a common anti-pattern in agile organizations.

This can have serious consequences for the teams we work with as Scrum Masters.

Additionally, Product Owners that are spread too thin may not even have time to be in the Scrum meetings because they serve many teams or handle several products, or because they have so many other meetings with C-level, or other stakeholders. Missing critical Scrum meetings (e.g. Sprint Review, Sprint Planning, Grooming) will quickly lead to a de-motivated team, as well as lack of trust and potential conflict between the team and the Product Owner. In my own experience, when the Product Owner starts missing critical Scrum meetings, the team will quickly start asking: “why do we even do these meetings”, which quickly leads to the meetings being dropped.

How do we help our Product Owners overcome these challenges? Read on…

Continue reading The Product Owner Sprint Checklist: A Tool to Help you Deal With an Overly Busy or Absent PO

How to help the PO be involved with the Scrum team, even if the PO does not have time

The Product Owner (PO) is a tough role to fill. Product Owners are torn between users, senior management, team and other stakeholders that they need to attend to.
While the team is working on completing the backlog items, the PO is probably meeting with the Director of Product to agree on a roadmap; with the CEO to hear about the latest ideas he got from visiting a client; trying to meet with the user research group to understand better the customer; reporting status to the head of Project Management; and still needs to visit the Sprint Planning, Backlog Grooming, Demo and the occasional daily meeting to answer questions from the team. And let’s not forget the email backlog!
With all of these tasks one has to ask: do we believe a single person can do this all alone? What I describe here is not even rare! We seem to collectively think that the Product Owner is a super-hero!


Given all of these tasks, it is little wonder that the PO’s end up struggling to even manage the JIRA tickets the teams ask them to review, give feedback on, and prioritize.

The feeling of overwhelm is common in Product Owners. They ask themselves if they are spending their time on the right things. Wouldn’t you, if you got constantly interrupted by questions and requests from others? How do we solve this, increase collaboration between Team and Product Owner, and improve our work place at the same time? Read on for more…
Continue reading How to help the PO be involved with the Scrum team, even if the PO does not have time

20 TOP Agile Blogs for Scrum Masters that you will not (easily) find on google searches (2017 edition)

Before reading the post, I wanted to share with you a great interview about how we, as Scrum Masters are always starting from Scratch (just like new year! 🙂 Here’s a Podcast episode as a new year gift from the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast archive built over the last 3 years interviewing Scrum Masters from all over the world.

Podcast Topic: We start a new with every team  (interview with Lucian Stroie)

Now for the list! 🙂

Here in the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast, we share insights and inspiring stories from Scrum Masters every day of the week because we believe we need inspiration and ideas every day. Therefore we also visit sites and blogs for the same reasons. To end the year with a bang, I wanted to create a list of Top blogs / Sites for Scrum Masters. Was I in for a disappointment… read on to know why…

Continue reading 20 TOP Agile Blogs for Scrum Masters that you will not (easily) find on google searches (2017 edition)

Product Owner Anti-Patterns, and how Scrum Masters can help overcome those

Product Owners have an impossible job! I know, I’ve been a Product Owner. And even worse, a Product Manager transitioning to Product Owner! And even worse! I was also the Project Manager. Geeez! When I look back I am amazed I survived that phase of my career.

Here’s the kicker, that was the best time of my Agile adoption journey. I got to see my ideas come to life so quickly! And have a concrete business impact (the product we delivered went on to generate 10 Million Eur in sales a little over 3 years).

My Product Owner journey towards Agile was not easy! Let me tell you how I survived that stressful time, and lived on to learn a lot from the experience.

Continue reading Product Owner Anti-Patterns, and how Scrum Masters can help overcome those

Heidi Helfand on the need to help teams change: Reteaming

We’ve often heard that teams should be long lived and stable. But what if the advantages or reteaming would be much larger than the disadvantages of changing team composition? In this episode we explore the topic of Reteaming and what Heidi has been developing and discovering that helps teams thrive when they change.

About Heidi Helfand

Heidi’s been in the software industry for 17 years and has a masters in teaching English. She has been a part of two successful startups. She was on the initial team that invented gotomeeting and gotowebinar at the first startup. She is currently Principal Agile Coach at AppFolio, Inc. where they create software for property management companies and law firms. She started there in 2007 hired as a Scrum Master – trained by Ken Schwaber and with Pivotal Labs for more than a year. She became a co-active coach along the way and is certified by the International Coach Federation and the Coaches Training Institute. She is currently writing and speaking about Reteaming – that is, how its valid and desirable to have changing teams as opposed to long running, unchanging teams.
You can link with Heidi Helfand on Linkedin, or connect with Heidi Helfand on Twitter.
You can also follow Heidi’s blog at: http://www.heidihelfand.com/writing/.