The Power of Two: Product Owner / Scrum Master

A magical thing happens when the relationship of the Product Owner and Scrum Master goes well.

Let's take a look at this in closer detail...

Perceptions can be misleading

You could be forgiven —as it is often perceived— that there is a division and potential conflict between the product owner (PO) and scrum master (SM). This perception is understandable considering the product owner focuses on the product, and scrum master on the team.
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Product Owners

The product owner focuses on delivering the product vision. In agile, and scrum, POs have a dedicated and specific period of time to work through requirements; those are their constraints. Naturally, the PO is going to want all the features in their product backlog that they can possibly get. But more time means more cost and less predictability.
PO = Not improving the team, improving the product.

Scrum Masters

Conversely, the scrum master guides the team. Ensure's they attend each ceremony, and to do it with excellence and to work as a team in a sustainable pace.

Same time each sprint, while focusing on team improvements each and every sprint.
SM = Not improving the product, improving the team.

The perceived conflict

Combining these different focus areas and outlooks, it is natural that the  product owner might get a little anxious about how the team is going to deliver the product.

The PO might even disagree with the scrum master about the focus on process, team health, over the product. The scrum master will convey the importance of staying within the scrum ring fence. The scrum master should that quality comes from a healthy team. 

The reality

The relationship between the product owner and scrum master is healthy opposition. This balance, is the secret source. When you have two opposing forces pulling in opposite directions like this, the team can find a sense of balance.
Photo by Dalton Touchberry on Unsplash

Final thoughts

Think of the scrum master and PO as a power of two, like justice: the power of two is a balance.
Balance means that any opposition should always be respectful and professional, but it must co-exist for agile and scrum to work successfully.
All the while, the team must strives to attain the goals for the product, while maintaining team health.
This is why a scrum produces such high quality products, while maintaining team well-being. Add a little opposition between your PO and scrum master, and you will see something magical.

Until next time, keep it agile!