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Scrum – Doing retrospective like discussions for Product Owners and for Scrum Masters

Most of the discussion around retrospectives in Scrum revolve around the end of the cycle discussion where the Scrum team discusses what went right in the cycle and where they need to make improvements. There is no set formula for the retrospective, with literature talking about the team doing a reflection at periodic intervals about making improvements. This is the time where the team can use as a discussion area for how to make improvements, whether these be in the area of communications within the team, discussions about how to make improvements in the process of interaction with the Product Owner to understand the requirements and go through estimation, and so on.
However, there are members of the team who have a more specialized role and for whom there is no specific kind of discussion where they can figure out how to make improvements, learn how others are handling tricky situations, and in fact, the discussion among peers. So, for example, the role of the Product Owner in the Scrum team is a very specific role, not comparable to the other roles in the Scrum team. For a Product Owner who has recently become a part of the Scrum team (and who might have been a Product Manager in the standard project manager ruled kind of team used for Waterfall run projects), the experience can be an altogether new one. In such cases, where is the discussion forum where the Product Owner can learn from others, relate his / her own issues and get feedback from others.
Similarly, the role of a Scrum Master is different from the others in the Scrum team. In many cases, what happens is that the Project Manager of a team becomes the Scrum Master, even though the role is vastly different from the Project Manager in terms of responsibilities and authority, and there is again no way for the Scrum Master to learn from his / her peers in terms of their experiences, how they would react in a situation in which the Scrum Master could have found themselves in, and so on. There is a lot that the Scrum Masters and Product Owners in an organization can share with their peers and learn from each other, but many organizations do not have such a structure to ensure that this kind of discussion and sharing happens.
So what should happen ? The organization (or rather, some senior managers in the organization) can help in the setting up a fora for the Product Owners and for the Scrum Masters. This would not be a gab fora, but instead would be a periodic interactive forum where Scrum Masters or Product Owners can share their experiences, can list down situations that resemble ones where they have been stuck in and look for others to provide their feedback on how they would have handled it. Such a discussion can help tremendously in improving the capabilities of these roles, and further help in actually improving the performance of the various Scrum teams and increasing their overall productivity.

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