Why Managing Shared Responsibilities is Key to Success of Scrum

Why Managing Shared Responsibilities is Key to Success of Scrum

Scrum is the most widely accepted and proven methodology in agile. According to ‘State of Scrum’ report 2016 by Scrum Alliance, 89 percent agile users follow scrum approach.


Scrum has defined three major roles- Scrum Master (SM), Product Owner (PO), and Development Team (DT). Each role as the defined set of responsibilities. In the practical implementation of Scrum, it is very important to share some of the responsibilities amongst these roles. Rightly shared responsibilities will result in the success of the scrum.


Let’s understand this by using a mathematical model.


Responsibility model using Venn Diagram


In the practical implementation of the scrum, if stakeholders restrict themselves to their own scope of responsibilities, then it will start developing gaps in a clarity of scope. Such gaps might be related to the functional requirement or technical implementation. Let’s understand this by a Venn diagram.


Let’s take the area of enclosed within the circle is responsibility-set of respective role. Area of the triangle is the scope of the particular sprint.

In the practical implementation of the scrum, there will be activities which will require shared responsibilities amongst SM, PO and DT. If all of them adhere themselves to their respective ideal responsibilities, it will lead to gaps in functional or technical aspects of the sprint goal.

Sometimes this gap might lead to ambiguity within these stakeholders, which might hinder sprint goal achievement; or even if the goal is achieved, functionality, quality and delivery might be hampered in long the long term.


To understand this, below are some common examples where the responsibilities overlap.

Example Responsibility of SM Responsibility of PO Responsibility of DT
Estimation of the stories SM should be aware of the team capacity. He guides the team to pick stories as per the capacity. PO plan the backlog considering stories in the sprint.

He tries to push stories into the sprint but he should be aware of the velocity.

The team should estimate accurately.

Estimation is relative to agile. If the team starts estimate wrongly, then it will hamper backlog.

Writing functional stories   PO writes stories and pushes them for development.

Along with this, these stories are used by testers to test scenarios, business stakeholders to understand scope etc.

Hence PO should write stories considering all these audience’s need.

DT start development as per the requirement in the story.

Hence, functionally and technically they should be clear with the approach.

Technical approach   PO should extend himself to technical approach also. It helps to understand team capacity and velocity. Ultimately PO can judge priority of the backlog based on this. The team defines the technical approach for the requirement. Every team member should have the clear understanding of the functional requirement and technical approach.





Agile Ceremonies SM takes care of adherence to agile ceremonies by the team. In practical, if the team is not following SM should take appropriate steps. PO is required in some ceremonies; hence PO and SM should align with the team. PO is part of some of the agile ceremonies. To bring in better results of these ceremonies, active participation of PO is needed. The team is self-organized on ideal agile. In practice, the team should align with PO and SM. In some cases, the team should follow guidelines by SM.

In, forming and norming stage, the team might not be in fully agile mindset, and hence SM is one who mentors and guides team to achieve that.

How to mitigate this gap?

To avoid this gap formation, three stakeholders need to understand their shared responsibilities besides with their own. By doing this, they will enter into each other’s responsibility zone and develops overlaps.

The key to the achievement of sprint goal or overall project’s success is to understand these overlaps so, its management. These stakeholders should be aware of overlapping zones and manage them without ego clashes.

Agile methodology is not a framework but is the mindset of the people. Everyone should understand and manage their own and shared responsibilities. It will mitigate gaps amongst stakeholders’ understanding. The collective goal and vision does develop, nurtures the sense of belongingness of the team for the project.

This will help to achieve sprint goal and achieve project vision successfully. This will reward the team for customer delight.

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