The Product Owner and Scrum Master Brain Transplant! Mwuhahahaha!!!

Imagine you are a Mad Agile Scientist and have a diabolical experiment to conduct - what would happen if you exchanged the brains of a Product Owner and Scrum Master? Mwuhahahaha!!! How would the body of a Product Owner with the brain of a Scrum Master act? And vice versa?

Perhaps the Scrum Master would now treat the team like a backlog? This Scrum Master would be focused on value and maintaining a coaching backlog of team and person improvements. This Scrum Master is refining the team, crafting a group that delivers value.

And perhaps the Product Owner might treat the backlog like a team? Rather than backlog refining, they coach the backlog. They would be focused on nurturing, protecting, and empowering the backlog. The backlog might transform from an irritation into a labor of love.

Although this experiment sounds terrible, this change of perspective might be what you need to reanimate your dead team or backlog.

Join the fun and come learn what horrifying results await!


Outline/Structure of the Talk

2' - Mad Agile Scientist introduction

18 ' - Treat the backlog like a SM

  • Backlog coaching instead of backlog refining
  • Nurture
  • Protect
  • Remove impediments
  • Experiment
  • Conflict resolution
  • Happy

18 ' - Treat the team like a PO

  • Team refining instead of team coaching
  • Backlog of individual and team improvements
  • Create and prioritize stories
  • Determine value and AC
  • Have a global DoD
  • Demonstrate
  • Improvement feedback loop

2' - Conclusion

Remainder of total timebox (45') - Q&A, approx 5'


  • The Product Owner can immediately apply soft skills to humanize their backlog
  • The Scrum Master can immediately apply the concept of growing people and teams via a backlog

Presentation History:

Presentation history of this session:

  • XP 2018 Porto
  • Lean Agile Systems Thinking Melbourne 2018
  • Agile2018 San Diego
  • Regional Scrum Gathering Sydney 2018 - upcoming
  • Agile Tauranga - upcoming
  • Regional Scrum Gathering Durban 2018 - upcoming
  • Regional Scrum Gathering Nepal 2018 - upcoming

Alex's conference and presentation history:

  • Agile Open Northwest 2012 - Session Leader
  • Übermind ÜnConference 2012 - Session Leader
  • MobileUXCamp Seattle 2012 - Session Leader
  • Seattle Kaizen Camp 2012 - Session Leader
  • MAQCon 2012 - Cofounder
  • MobileUXCamp Seattle 2013 - Session Leader
  • Seattle Kaizen Camp 2013 - Session Leader
  • MobileUXCamp Seattle 2014 - Session Leader
  • Seattle Kaizen Camp 2014 - Session Leader
  • Construx Software Executive Summit 2014 - Facilitator
  • Shell Developers Summit 2015 - Keynote Speaker
  • Scrum Coaching Retreat Seattle 2015 - Volunteer Team
  • Un:Conference Canberra 2016 - Session Leader
  • Agile2016 - Volunteer Team
  • UX Australia 2016 - Speaker, Reviewer
  • Agile Coach Camp Sydney 2016 - Session Leader
  • Agile Tour Sydney 2016 - Facilitator
  • StartCon 2016 - Pitch Competitor
  • Global Scrum Gathering San Diego 2017 - Reviewer
  • Global Scrum Gathering Singapore 2017 - Speaker (Rating = 4.5/5)
  • Agile Coach Camp Sydney 2017 - Session Leader
  • Scrum Gathering India 2017 - Speaker, Facilitator, Coaches' Clinic
  • Lean Agile Systems Thinking Canberra 2017 - Organizer, Speaker (Rating = 5/5)
  • Lean Agile Systems Thinking Melbourne 2017 - Speaker (Rating = 5/5), Facilitator (Rating = 4.4/5)
  • Lean Agile Systems Thinking Sydney 2017 - Speaker
  • Scrum Gathering Melbourne 2017 - Speaker (Rating = 2nd highest session at conference), Coaches' Clinic
  • AgileNZ 2017 - Speaker
  • Scrum Gathering South Africa 2017 - Speaker
  • Business and Enterprise Agility Conference India 2017 - Speaker
  • Business Agility Conference NYC 2018 - Facilitator
  • 1st Conference Melbourne 2018 - Facilitator
  • Lean Agile Systems Thinking Sydney 2018 - Speaker
  • Agile Impact Jakarta 2018 - Speaker, Workshop Facilitator
  • Business Agility Conference Sydney 2018 - Reviewer, Facilitator of Facilitators, Organizer
  • Global Scrum Gathering Austin 2019 - Reviewer
  • XP 2019 Montreal - Industry and Practice Co-Chair

Speaking References:


Learning Outcome

  • Product Owners will learn that they should love their backlogs. This shift in attitude and how they view their work can transform their tedious backlog maintenance into a labor of love. For example, a PO may change the meeting title from "Backlog Refining" to "Backlog Coaching".
  • Scrum Masters will learn that it's OK to push the team to grow. This change in perspective will empower the Scrum Master to focus on value and encouraging the best they can get from their team. For example, a Scrum Master may deploy backlogs targeted to improving skills of team members.
  • All attendees will be introduced to the concept that traditional role paradigms can be shifted.

Target Audience

Scrum Masters, Product Owners, Agile Coaches

Prerequisites for Attendees




schedule Submitted 2 years ago

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