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So you are a Scrum Master or the equivalent of that in other agile frameworks/processes, what would be team tasks that you are allowed to help with or do on your own? Are there any tasks that you have performed without negatively affecting the team in the longer run?

Obviously, I am refering to tasks that the Scrum Guide formally assigns to either the Product Owner or the Development Team.

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There are a number of risks to doing work with the team or doing the product owner's work as the scrum master. Before getting into those, let's be honest, it's a balance you have to find in your particular circumstance. If a major deal is going to be lost and you can help by stepping in and doing some testing or coding, that probably is the way to go. So, that said, the risks:

Doing PO Work

Writing stories, talking with stakeholders, or keeping a healthy backlog are things the PO should be doing. If they aren't and you fill in for them, you're enabling the problem. Maybe it's a problem with the PO or maybe the organization is making unreasonable demands on their time. Either way, you are helping hide the problem. Please note this is different than sitting down and helping the PO do these things when they are new to it and need a hand.

Doing Team Work

There are two possible risks here. First and simplest, by stepping in and doing work you are changing the view on what the team can deliver. I assume this is the exception and that means that 1) the extra capacity for work isn't sustainable and 2) you're doing work that the team will be held to later without the responsibility of you being part of the delivery team.

The other concern is if you are doing work because you have a skill they lack. Here, you are again allowing the team to cover a problem up that will persist. Like I said at the beginning, you have to weigh the risk. Maybe you are filling in for one sprint until a new hire starts and provides that skill. Just be aware of the risk you are adding in.

Healthy Tension Between Roles

There is one final thing to consider. The Scrum Team is designed with a healthy tension between roles. The Product Owner wants the team to spend their time building more and better features. The Team wants to spend time making sure the product is built right from a technical and architectural standpoint. The Scrum Master wants everyone to spend time improving how they work. When these three are in balance, you get all of the benefits. By investing yourself in either development work or PO work, you throw off this balance because now you are no longer an impartial coach. You have a personal investment in some part of the product.

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    Agreed with Daniel. There are two points I'd bring out. First, focus: I find it hard to do my best work if I can't focus on something, and being split across SM and developer is a degradation of focus. Second, the relationship of the SM to the rest of the team changes if the SM is also doing development work. – yitznewton Aug 24 '17 at 14:46
  • Can you guys share a few examples of actual tasks you carried out? Did these have a negative long term effects in line with what @Daniel mentioned above? – Muhammad Aug 24 '17 at 15:11

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