Scrum has evolved since it was first formalized and described. Some of the  patterns that comprised original scrum have fallen out of favor based on applied industry experience, scrum has evolved. The follow pattern is Modern Scrum, which is basically Original Scrum with the modifications described here and what we recommend as a practice today.

  • The addition of a Team Leader, the Team Member who is accountable to the Product Owner for the value of the work performed;
  • Making the whole Team (not just the Development Team) into a Well-Formed Team, and adding the responsibility to Refine the Items on the Work Stream in order to make them Ready to work on;
  • Inserting the Scrum Team’s Improvements and Chores directly into the Work Stream, where they are Refined and prioritized along with the other Items derived from the Value Stream;
  • The addition of Subject Matter Experts who provide knowledge and expertise that the Team needs, but does not have;
  • Using the Definition of Done to impose the use of an appropriate Standard of Care by the Team; and
  • Changes to Sprint Planning to make it less Predictive and Coercive.

Product Owner Re-Definition

But, there’s one more thing; and it’s a big thing — we discussed (and argued) about this one a lot in the Scrum Community. This Team Leader role was called the Proxy Product Owner for a while, and then it was decided that, no, this Team Leader is actually the Product Owner — that the Product Owner had to be a Scrum Team Member; a part of the Self-Organized Team — and this decision was made in about 2005 or so.

Some are still fighting about this, but I agree with it whole-heartedly, and it is clearly assumed to be true in The Enterprise and Scrum, which was published in 2007. For example:

  • on page 73: “The Product Owner and ScrumMaster are the first people on a Scrum Team.”
  • on pages 76-80 there are diagrams (figures 8-6 and 8-7) showing hierarchies of Scrum Teams with Product Owners and ScrumMasters at each level.

So, it’s a done deal, as far as the “official” definition of Scrum is concerned. But it causes us problems here, because the Product Owner role in Original Scrum is not the Product Owner role in Modern Scrum. Oops… so I’m going to go back to calling the original role either the Business Owner or the Project Leader depending on whether or not the Stakeholder’s Value Stream is project-based — I tend to think of a Project Leader as the Business Owner of a Project. Anyway, here’s my picture of Modern Scrum.

Modern Scrum

Modern Scrum Pattern Graphic
Now, one could argue, and many have, that the Business Owner and the Product Owner could be one-and-the-same person. I agree, in principle. However, I don’t want the Product Owner to be the Project Leader — the Development Team must be separated from the potential of a bad Project Leader — a bad Project Leader can have a very coercive and damaging effect on the Team, and thus the Product itself.

Problems with Modern Scrum

As has been discussed throughout, Modern Scrum solves many of the problems that existed in Original Scrum. In fact, I see Modern Scrum as a well-oiled machine — as a balanced collection of Patterns. It is a very good thing. However, there are three issues that still remain:

  1. the Project Leader (if there is one) must be a good Project Leader. There is no way we could guarantee this, but at least we have both the Product Owner and ScrumMaster protecting and shielding the Team from this potential bad Project Leader — as long as we keep the Project Leader outside the Team.
  2. Modern Scrum still assumes a single Product; and
  3. Modern Scrum still assumes a single Scrum Team.