Product Owner Riddle

I posed the following Riddle to the Scrum Trainers, and got some interesting answers, so I thought I’d pose it to everybody, and see what you think.

Based on the current Scrum Guide, which you can find here, the following
‘rules’ are all true:

  1. Every Scrum Team has a Product Owner,
  2. Each Product Backlog is managed by a single Product Owner, and
  3. Multiple Scrum Teams can ‘pull’ from the same Product Backlog.

So, assume we have the following situation:

  • There are two Scrum Teams:
    • one in India, whose Product Owner is Anil, and
    • one in Indiana, whose Product Owner is Susan.
  • Both Teams are pulling from the same Product Backlog, as we see in the diagram below:
Prioritizing the Product Backlog

Two Scrum Teams ‘pulling’ from Same Backlog

Question: Who prioritizes the Product Backlog?

Please give us your best answers in the comments. Thanks, Dan đŸ˜‰


Stay tuned for our take on this question!


Ok, here’s what I think…

Most of you had very good comments. There are clearly three positions that make up the Product Owner role in this discussion: the two Team Leads, and whoever prioritizes (orders) the Product Backlog.

Each of these three positions requires decision-making; either about what the Teams are doing or what is going to be delivered. Ideally, a single person would do it all…

However, this might overload a single person, which could cause bad decisions to be made. This potential of making bad decisions is the main problem you need to deal with.

If you can do it with one person, do it with one person; if you can do it with two, do it with two; if you need three people working closely together, then you do it that way. You do what the problem requires you to do.

I have a new blog, “Product Ownership and ‘Overloaded’ Product Owners”, which discusses this problem from another point of view.

Thanks for the comments. Dan đŸ˜‰