Why does the Product Owner (PO) Disturb the Team?

In Agile and Scrum talks or training, Product Owners (PO’s) or people playing the PO role in projects/ products, ask : Is it alright to ask the team how is it going during a sprint?

A good team would probably direct him/ her to the burndown chart or the Kanban inspired to-do lists. duly sorted in in-progress, to be picked up or done. The teams who do not maintain the burndown chart only have themselves to blame for the Product Owner or Product Manager, asking the obvious. Now, let us say the team maintain the burndown chart and the PO can see it, what if he/ she asks – Is this your best pace or Could you do better or I don’t think this is good enough? This is probably getting into a territory, where there is no yes or no – it is just something you have to analyze context wise. Let us analyze some of the reasons [assuming that the team is maintaining correct working pace and is not padding up or slacking]:

  1. Why the Product Owner could say such a thing? The Product Owner obviously does not trust the team.
  2. Why does the Product Owner not trust the team? Probably the PO has no clue what all we do.
  3. Why does the Product Owner not have this clue? Because he can’t see it.
  4. Why can’t he see it? Because we did not put it on the sprint backlog or to-do list.
  5. Why did we not put it? Because [A] We were lazy [B] All programmers and testers know what all it involves [C] It won’t make sense to business [D] It takes time

Other than [D] above, none of the above seems like compelling reasons for not listing all the tasks. Also, the consequences of not putting it because of [D] -> lack of trust in product management and development – is too big to account for extra minutes it takes to list all tasks and dependencies.

Hence, next time the PO has this urge to ask you>>please just ask yourself the 5 questions above and see if you can find a solution. If your PO asks you to change something/ do an extra thing/ tweak something>>then Scrum is pretty clear on how you should handle it 🙂

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