CHOW #125 – Case of Julie and Julia

Julia is the Product Owner of a team named “Marine Care” and their products’ objective is to reduce the overall cost of ownership. While the TCO is well understood in many circles, this team needs to reduce the technology footprint that’s spread across 18 different products to rationalize them to 3-4 based on the user journeys.

Julie is the Scrum Master for the team “Marine Care” and she brings in wealth of experience having a great deal of project management as well as agile scrum mastering experience.

When the team was formed, Julie was aware that Julia comes from the Marine Corps background and she’s known to be a task master. Understanding the team behaviors and keeping servant leadership is extremely critical for Julie being a scrum master.

What can Julie do to ensure that Julia’s task master is not in the fore front but the servant leader?

Suggested Solution

Sometimes, scrum masters assume that they report to the product owners. This is primarily due to the levels at which these roles are recruited at. The idea that the scrum masters role is to uphold agile values, for the team to be successful, is important. From this challenge, it looks like Julie has already taken that challenge.

As a product owner, the role is divided into three main parts –

A. Backlog mgmt

B. Domain understanding and Visioning

C. Champion of the team

Backlog management involves prioritization, refining, splitting stories and enabling the scrum team to estimate pieces of work.

Domain understanding calls for understanding the vision and hypothesis that Julia needs to carve out for each iteration.

The third leg of being a Champion of the team is where Julie needs help in this challenge.

First step for Julie is to let go of her assumption that there would be command and control model due to her background.

Second step for Julie, as an agile steward, is to help Julia understand the expectations from the PO role. To go deeper, Julie can create an expectation setting along with the “Marine Care” squad so that Julia has a 360 degree view from the team.

Third step for Julie is to create regular 1:1s and share the observations and take the mantle of the coach till Julia becomes attuned to the role.

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