The ScrumMaster is responsible for removing any barriers between the development Teams and the Product Owner and customers so that the customers can directly drive development. The ScrumMaster is also responsible for showing the Product Owner how to use Scrum to maximize project return on investment (ROI) and meet the project’s objectives.
Neither of these responsibilities is easy to fulfill. The ScrumMaster often has to work against 20 years of history during which customers and Teams have drifted apart. Each sees the other as a source of something that is of great value but that is also extremely hard to get. The customer knows from experience how unlikely it is that the Team will deliver a system, much less a system that meets the customer’s needs. The Team knows from experience that the customer is fickle, always changing his or her mind just when the Team thinks it knows what to build. Together, they believe there is little opportunity to work closely together to each other’s mutual benefit.
“Scrum solved my customer involvement problem,” is a refrain that I’ve heard from IT executives over the years. Scrum provides many opportunities for resolving this industry-wide problem. The Team and the Product Owner should be constantly collaborating, scheming together about how to get the most value for the business from the selected technologies. Once implemented, Scrum practices facilitate collaboration between customers and development Teams in the normal course of a Scrum project. We’ll examine strategies and tactics for the ScrumMaster to bring this collaboration about using stealth, if necessary. Let’s look at how Scrum helped solve the customer involvement problem without either the customers or the Team knowing that Scrum was being employed.