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18 January 2014

Was Jean Luc Picard a scrum master or a product owner?

I recently found myself in a Melbourne bar, chatting with a group of Agile folks. I had just met someone for the first time and as we were both business analysts as well as keen Agilists, we found plenty to chat about. At some point during the evening, we discovered we were both Trekkies and tossed around the idea that both Spock and Data must have been business analysts. We agreed to co-author a blog post on the topic, that I would still like to do, so this post is not it, but it is the result of subsequent mind wanderings on my part.  

The scrum guide defines the characteristics of the scrum master as someone who gives service to the product owner, the development team and the organisation: they are a servant leader who's prime directive is to serve the organisation by selflessly facilitating the success of others. The product owner's key characteristics are accountability and transparency, the product owner's prime directive is to ensure that the needs of the business are reflected in the product backlog and that the development team has all the information they need to meet those needs. This is also servant leadership, with their success being dependent on facilitating the success of others and being accountable for the decisions they make. 

Facilitating the retrospective...
Jean Luc, has characteristics of both of these roles, yet my first thought was that he was definitely a product owner, responsible for carrying out the work of the business (Starfleet); accepting responsibility for not only completing the mission, but also for keeping the ship and the crew alive and well. Thinking about it a bit more, specifically how Picard goes about his duties and his demeanor, I decided that he was in fact the scrum master. Picard did not choose his missions, the product owner (perhaps Starfleet) did that, Jean Luc then set about the process of facilitating his team - the senior crew - to carry them out. Jean Luc was a leader, teacher and protector of his team; and much like many scrum masters, perfectly willing and able to roll up his sleeves and cut code if required. 

Peer-reviewed by Tavis Ashton-Bell  (muso, composer, academic and critical thinker; the root cause of the Chess Blog series) (suss him out)