Pain is temporary, failure lasts forever

Lean, agile living for the running mother of Peter

2008-01-28

The difference between having a role and a title

When using Scrum as a development method, one of the really nice things is the usage of roles. Being the product owner is like being cast to a role in a play. And as important it is to the theatre to be able to have stand-ins, we need it too. When I was a kid they set up a local play in the village where I grew up. It was focused around a local celebrity and the set was huge. Half through the schedule, the guy got sick and half of the shows were cancelled: since everything was built around it being HIM doing the show, it was no use when he wasn't there. Of course, if you're going to a concert, you go to see those guys. But when it comes to theatre or software development: this is stupid.

Last week I was rushed off to the ER. Something that was not wholly unexpected due to my previous problems, but it wasn't planned and it came at a really bad time. But since it's only roles I could talk to one of the guys and give him the role instead. He started talking about being a Product Owner Proxy but that is not an option: a scrum project need a product owner. Someone who takes his own decisions and doesn't hide behind someone who's not there. Not fair to the others, not fair to him and not fair to me. Now, he might be a really good guy and that is why it works out so well, but I do believe it is important to just let go of a role when you're not there. Of course I can say why I've taken some decisions and I can give advice. But as long as I'm not there, I'm not the product owner.

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