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A deep dive into the purpose of each Scrum accountability

Updated: Oct 31

Scrum Teams that understand the why” behind the Scrum framework can better increase value delivery to the organization. Internalizing the purpose behind the events, artifacts and accountabilities of Scrum allows the team to get the most benefit from them. We’ve already discussed the purpose behind each of the events in Scrum. Now let’s turn our attention to the purpose of each of the three accountabilities in Scrum.



A Scrum Team without a Product Owner is like a ship without a rudder


The purpose of the Product Owner is to maximize the value of the Product resulting from the work of the Scrum Team. It sounds simple, yet how this accountability plays out varies from organization to organization.

A Scrum Team without a Product Owner is like a ship without a rudder.
A Scrum Team without a Product Owner is like a ship without direction.

First, why do we need a Product Owner? A team without a Product Owner is like a ship without a rudder. It might be going somewhere, but is it the right somewhere? Does the team have a clear goal, and are they progressing toward it? The Product Owner answers both of these questions.


Scrum teams should deliver value incrementally in quest of the Product Goal.


To add value, we need to know where we are going. The Product Owner answers this question by establishing a clear Product Goal. The Product Goal is a concrete target that aims the team toward the Product Owners’ vision for the product. Without a clear Product Goal, the team can’t focus on finding the right value to add to the product.


Without a clear Product Goal the team has decreased focus.

Once the Product Owner has a vision and goal, they work with their stakeholders to determine what would help them achieve it. The team documents these items in the Product Backlog for everyone to see.


The Product Backlog in Scrum is the to do list for the team.

The Product Owner is accountable for the Product Backlog’s content and ordering. The Product Backlog describes what the team will work on next. Each Product Backlog item represents a unit of value to be added to the product. Valuable items might include bug fixes, new features, fixes for technical debt, or technical improvements to the product. The Product Owner considers many factors when ordering the list and might seek input from many stakeholders. However, it is up to the Product Owner as the final decision-maker on what will add value to the product.



A Scrum Team without Developers is like a ship without sails


The purpose of Developers is to deliver a usable increment that meets the Sprint Goal once per Sprint. Developers achieve this by managing their work using the Sprint Backlog.


Why do we need Developers? Developers are responsible for executing the work of the Scrum Team. A team without Developers is like a sailing ship without sails — it’s not going anywhere.


A Scrum team without Developers is like a sailing ship without sails.
A Scrum team without Developers is like a ship without sails.


To achieve their purpose of delivering a usable increment once per Sprint, Developers on a Scrum Team manage their work using the Sprint Backlog.



The Sprint Backlog in Scrum includes the Sprint Goal.

The Scrum Team creates the Sprint Backlog at the Sprint Planning event. The backlog contains a list of the Product Backlog items the developers intend to deliver during the upcoming Sprint and a plan for delivering them. The Sprint Backlog also includes a Sprint Goal, which helps the team focus on what is most important to achieve during the Sprint.


The Daily Scrum is for the Developers.

ut having a plan at the beginning of each Sprint is not enough to ensure that Developers can deliver a usable increment once per Sprint. That’s why Developers monitor their progress at the Daily Scrum event.


The purpose of the Daily Scrum is for Developers to inspect their progress toward the Sprint Goal at least once daily. The Developers are the only ones required at this event, which surprises some people because many believe that the Scrum Master’s purpose is to facilitate all events in Scrum (more on that later). It makes sense though when you consider that the Developers’ purpose is to deliver a usable increment once per Sprint. Add to this that the purpose of the Daily Scrum is to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal, and you see a direct one-to-one relationship between the purposes of the Daily Scrum and the Developers. It’s a match made in Scrum! It makes sense that those accountable for doing the work are the only ones required to attend this event.


Developers might request the Scrum Master facilitate the Daily Scrum if the team is new to the framework.



A Scrum Team without a Scrum Master is like a ship without a framework


The purpose of the Scrum Master is to improve the adoption of Scrum. Just as a Master of Science or Master of English degree indicates a level of expertise, Scrum Master credentials denote having mastery in the practice of Scrum. (Don’t know what certification is best for you? Visit Rebel Scrum for an overview of Scrum.org certifications available.)


Why do we need a master of Scrum? A team without a Scrum Master is like a ship without a strong framework. It’s not going to deliver the value expected from an agile ship.


A Scrum Team without a Scrum Master is like a ship with holes in it.
A Scrum Team without a Scrum Master is like a busted ship!

Scrum Masters help the team deliver value to the organization by helping everyone to understand the “why” behind the Scrum framework. They help teams embody the spirit of empiricism, which underpins all of the events, artifacts and accountabilities in the Scrum framework. You can learn more about the Scrum Master accountability by signing up for an upcoming Rebel Scrum Professional Scrum Master course.



Conclusion

Each of the three accountabilities in Scrum ensures that the Scrum Team delivers value to the organization. Understanding the purpose behind each of the three Scrum accountabilities can help team members better navigate how they can interact together to maximize the value of the product resulting from their work. To learn more about Scrum, signup for Rebel Scrum’s Applying Professional Scrum course. It really is Scrum 101… and beyond!



Save the date for Scrum Day USA in 2023! Scrum Day is scheduled for September 14, 2023, in Madison, Wisconsin. Thoughtful discussions and engaging speakers including industry leaders and leading Scrum experts.