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I have a product owner for one of my sprits who likes to involve people outside the sprint in sprint tasks. I've attempted several times to explain how this isn't ideal, and in fact slows down the sprints and causes confusion.

I recently saw that they invited their entire team (about 5 people) to the next sprint planning meeting. They didn't ask me about it (me being their scrum master), and I assume the reasoning behind it will be something along the lines so they can "see the process" or something to that effect.

I want to explain to the product owner that having people from outside the sprint in sprint planning is a bad idea and can cause confusion. What is the best way to explain to the product owner that adding people to this meeting isn't a product idea?

  • What's the problem? If they're just standing off to the side silently watching (which would enable them to 'see the process'), then what's the detriment to the meeting? – Sarov Sep 20 '17 at 18:56
  • This team in general does not "silently" watch. They have a habit of trying to add extra scope to any task we try and take on. – AnthonyJGentile Sep 20 '17 at 19:00
  • Additionally most resources I've looked at say there are no observers in sprint planning. EX: abrachan.wordpress.com/scrum/scrum/… – AnthonyJGentile Sep 20 '17 at 19:13
  • That's one simple solution, then. Just tell them: "You can stay and watch, but don't talk or you'll interrupt our meeting." – Sarov Sep 20 '17 at 19:13
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    @AnthonyJGentile, once those "onlookers" try to influence the scope of a story under consideration, you should immediately remove that story from consideration as it apparently is not clear enough what needs to be done. This will probably give the story a delay of at least one sprint, which is an immediate and highly visible consequence of trying to broaden the scope. If the work of your team is important enough for those "onlookers", they will quickly learn to keep quiet as the alternative will have direct influence on their planning. – Bart van Ingen Schenau Sep 21 '17 at 13:27
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Invite them to the Backlog Refinement meeting instead

As you can see in a previous thread here, "in the agile community we are seeing more and more the concept of the Product Owner Team." It is good to factor in this reality.

Invite the Product Owner Team to the Backlog Refinement meeting instead. This has the following benefits:

  • They won't feel offended by being excluded from the process. And they can "see the process".

  • Backlog Refinement is the place where they can "add extra scope to any task", if they wish to do so. If in doubt, you can ask the PO to make the final call.

  • Instead of wasting the time of the entire dev team, you can invite one or two representatives from the dev team.

  • You won't get slowed down in the Spring Planning meeting.

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