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How to handle a disagreement between Scrum Master and Product Owner?

Onkar Singh Lohtham
Published: 13 March, 2024

Point of View: Scrum Master vs. Product Owner

How to Handle a Disagreement Between Scrum Master and Product Owner?

Disagreements are not always bad. It just shows that the individuals have a different opinion on a topic. Sometimes it’s healthy to have these disagreements to have a balance of thoughts in the team. Of course, it has to be in good spirit without getting toxic.

A product owner would like to get as much stuff done in a given sprint, based on the current velocity of the team. Ideally there wouldn’t be a discussion of ‘scope creep’ in an Agile development environment, because the development would happen based on the written stories. If the PO wants to enhance certain stories, thereby increasing the scope and the development effort, that is technically not allowed once the sprint has started. Now, if he/she wants to get some more things done in the same sprint, that again wouldn’t happen, as the Scrum Master would ask him/her to prioritise what needs to be done first.

Scope creep and the discussion around Quality used to happen in fixed bid Waterfall projects, where the scope of the project would increase with an expectation to be done at the same time & money. Then one of the ways to handle that situation would be to trade-off on Quality.

But in case of Agile methodology, say for e.g. SCRUM, you have a set velocity for the sprint, you have a ‘Definition of Done’ that needs to be followed. So, in this structure I do not think a discussion would happen on Scope creep vs. Quality. Because the scope is open for the PO to decide – what needs to be worked upon in the sprint, and quality is governed by the ‘Definition of Done’.

However, if that situation arises, then I would suggest using the following pointers to have a discussion:

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Onkar Singh Lohtham

Founder & CPO | Lead Trainer | Digital Skills Mastery

Onkar is one of the most innovative and experienced agile practitioners and trainers in the world. He has helped organisations build £multi-million products/services & win awards. His passion lies in training on ‘how to’ implement unique road map & commercial strategies, manage complex backlogs and lead multi-product agile teams from inception to launch.

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