The Role of those Outside of the Scrum Team


Executive Summary

In this article, I discuss the role of those outside of the Scrum Team. This includes managers, stakeholders, and any other member of the organization that the Scrum Team works for. I look to the Scrum Guide first, and then discuss some other ideas not specifically from the Scrum Guide. In short, the role of those outside of the Scrum Team is to:

  • Collaborate with the Scrum Team on Release Planning
  • Collaborate with the Scrum Team in Sprint Reviews
  • Influence, but not contradict, the work priorities as decided by the Product Owner
  • Receive teaching and coaching on Scrum from the ScrumMasters
  • Not interfere with the Scrum implementation
  • Assist the Scrum Team in removing organizational impediments

In my post earlier this week, I spoke to the role of Managers in Scrum, which is a specific subset of those outside of the Scrum Team.

Introduction

A common question when trying to implement Scrum is, “What is the role of members of an organization that are not on a Scrum Team?” Let’s take a look and see what we can find out about this.

Click the link below to see what the Scrum Guide says about people not on the Scrum Team:

What the Scrum Guide says about people not on the Scrum team

“People not on the Scrum Team” includes managers, as well as anyone without a defined role on the Scrum Team.

Summary of what the Scrum Guide says about those outside of the Scrum Team

  • Members of the organization:
    • can view the decisions of the Product Owner by viewing the priorities of the Product Backlog, and thus know what items will be worked on, and in what order they will be worked on.
    • cannot tell the Scrum Team how to do their work.
    • are not able to talk or in any way interfere with the Daily Scrum
      • The guide is ambiguous on whether other organizational members can be present at the Daily Scrum or not.
    • can attend the Sprint Review to collaborate on what was done and what is to be done next.
    • receive teaching and coaching from ScrumMasters on how to adopt Scrum.
    • help the ScrumMaster to remove organizational impediments.
    • are not allowed to contradict the Product Owner as to what work priorities are.
    • can attend Release Planning meetings to collaborate on the release plan.
    • can work with the Scrum Team to decide the effort units that will be used on the Release Burndown.
  • The Scrum Guide also speaks about managers/management, which are a specific subset of “members of the organization.”

Some other thoughts of mine on the role of those outside of the Scrum Team

  • As much as possible, those outside of the Scrum Team should try to work as Servant Leaders to the Scrum Team, by removing impediments. Every impediment removed is one more chance for the Scrum Team to succeed by delivering value to the organization as a whole.
  • As much as possible, those outside of the Scrum Team should work very hard not to interfere with the Scrum process implementation as executed by the Scrum Team.
  • Stakeholders of the system under development should take every opportunity to guide the product’s development by collaborating with the Scrum Team during Release Planning and Sprint Reviews. These two activities, in particular, thrive on good customer/stakeholder feedback, so the outputs to those activities are only as good as the feedback that is given as input.

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