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Scrum – what happens when the Product Owner is not fully engaged with the team

As a part of the Scrum process, it is essential that the Product Owner has to fully engaged with the team. On the other hand, one of the biggest problems with the failure of Scrum teams is due to a Product Owner not being fully engaged with the team, due to a multiple number of varied reasons. For the Scrum process, there is the need for a Product Owner who is able to do the high level translation of broad features into specific feature requirements, and is also able to work with the team in terms of answering many different queries from the feature team, and also being on call (to some extent) and being able to deliver the time that is needed for the feature team.
You need a Product Owner who understands the needs of the team in terms of being able to define a prioritized Product Backlog list and maintain it over the duration of the project. In addition, the Product Owner should be able to properly take some of the more vague requirements as well as some of the more specific requirements, and be able to convert them into a user stories that the Scrum team can then convert into actionable tasks. And of course, the Product Owner should also be able to answer queries and points raised by the Product team (which can take time and also mean that the Product Owner needs to be available at regular intervals to the Scrum team).
However what happens in many cases is that the Product Owner does not meet these requirements. You have a person who is skilled at being able to review current industry and competitor positions, but who is senior enough that the person is not expected to get into the kind of detail and closeness required for the Scrum team Product Owner. In many cases, the Product Owner is actually a person who has 10-15 years of experience in the industry, or more, and it is difficult for them to visualize the level of support required. On the other hand, when you have a smaller team with not too much organizational focus, it is very much possible that a more junior person, even somebody from the marketing team is moved to the position of a Product Owner (in some cases, this will work; but there is a much higher chance that the Product Owner will not be able to do a good job). When you see such a thing happening, then you know that things are going to get problematic for the future of the Scrum team and the process and need to call
it out (and some people will be a bit diffident about calling out such things; but a proper ScrumMaster needs to what is best for the project rather than face a potential risk to the success of the project). The Project Review meetings are a good forum to raise this issue, along with other issues that could cause an enhanced level of risk to the project.

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