I am a team member in a Scrum team. This morning I had a discussion with my Scrum Master where I said that I needed a two people from another team to be a part of my team. I said I would like to discuss this with the Product Owner and then the Manager. The Scrum Master basically changed the discussion, saying that the responsibility for that was not mine or the Product Owner's, but was the Scrum Master's.

Who is responsible for changing the composition of the Scrum team?

  • 1
    Nobody has yet commented on the reaction of members of the other team (the one you attempt to dismantle). Will be waterfalled by an agile scrum of downvotes, yet would suggest also re-reading The Mythical Man-Month... Jan 22, 2013 at 20:01
  • This is a special situation I can not comment on in too much detail. However, what I can say, is that the guys are specialists at a different location and willing to move. And their skill is not needed at the current team. And their current Scrum Master was already eyeing me unhappily when I talked to them. Basically this is a different question to ask. I will! :-)
    – pvblivs
    Jan 22, 2013 at 20:47

7 Answers 7


Roles and Responsibilities for Team Composition

This is an interesting question, because it addresses some of the subtleties of self-organization with agile frameworks. In particular, it highlights the differences between authority and influence.

  • Scrum Team Members are responsible for identifying impediments (e.g. the team doesn't have sufficient expertise in database design) and recommending adaptive improvements (e.g. suggesting that John Doe the DBA could provide the experience the team lacks). Team Members are also responsible for exerting influence on team composition by making recommendations about adding or removing people from the team.

  • Product Owners are (often) responsible for resource budgeting. In such cases, the Product Owner would be responsible for approving or declining resources that would be charged against his budget. This falls squarely into the core Product Owner responsibility of setting project priorities.

  • Scrum Masters are responsible for facilitating discussions about project resources (including resource constraints), process impediments, and recommendations for process improvement. However, Scrum Masters generally lack authority to directly implement organizational change. When the Scrum team agrees on an approach, the Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that the team's recommendations reach the appropriate decision-makers, and for promoting the team's interests within the larger organization through influence.

Applicability to Your Case

Unless the Scrum Master has been assigned additional authority beyond the typical scope of the role, he should not be making hiring or resource-allocation decisions unilaterally. Doing so is not a generally-accepted Scrum practice, and is certainly not in the interests of team-building; nevertheless, it occasionally happens in certain types of organizations.

You are quite right to bring up your concerns and recommendations within the team, but it is the Scrum Team's joint responsibility to agree on a solution and a spokesperson. However, deciding what people or resources the team needs, and how the team could best assist the Scrum Master in representing the team's interests to the rest of the organization, is most definitely not within your authority to handle alone.

Organizational authority, whether on behalf of the company or the Scrum team, must always be delegated. The Scrum Master would be quite right to flag a team member taking a unilateral approach to this issue as outside the framework's generally-accepted practices.


First of Agile Manifesto is: "Individuals and interactions over processes and tools" Which means that no one should be discouraged out of removing impediments by saying it's not his role. Especially if there is a viable momentum for getting things done.

If you want to take a closer look at the "rules", then each of team members should be able to raise risks and impediments and propose the solutions and mitigation plans. If a team lacks skills or knowledge it would also affect a team's ability to achieve goals. It sounds like a PO's impediment as well.

Removing impediments is a Scrum Master's responsibility because team members and PO are often strongly focused on getting the results, so there should be someone who cares for performance of the other team as well, since their resources are going to (actually) be robbed. Nevertheless, I hardly imagine a SM who would manage to change a team size without an active support of a team.


If I have understood your question correctly as your team is trying to add resources then you are doing a right thing, however if you alone have ascertained to make such an adjustment am afraid it's not your call it's the teams call. In scrum teams collaboratively make such decisions, therefore if you think you need two resources it's better you table this as an impediment in the daily scrum and justify after scrum to team and SM the reasons why you intend to do it. In scrum team is empowered to make adjustments to team setup, however a Scrum Master could oversee if you are doing the right thing or not. For e.g. you team size is 6-7 and you are adding couple of more resources you risk the aspect of communication, flow, etc. PO end of the day is answerable to the business about ROI by the end of sprint. He could be funding the project if so as Adrian above suggests it's his final call to add resources as there could be a cost impact. If these two resources are shared resources across other teams then it shouldn't involve PO's approval, it would possibly involve the executive PO for the entire platform. When you have shared resources it's better to conduct cluster sprint planning meetings where shared resources are involved.

  • I do not need two resources but those two specific people. I already commented on the specific situation in my post. But, yeah, I see your point. I still have to learn to bring this discussion to the whole team. And let the Scrum Master moderate the process and get into the background. Thanks :-)
    – pvblivs
    Jan 22, 2013 at 20:49

Lets rationalize a bit: - It is definitely not the PO's call, he is responsible for managing the product and not the team (that is self managed), but of course he holds the budget so there is an indirect call on the teams structure. - The Scrum Master needs to keep the team in high performance mode - so he's approach should be: I see you are lacking some muscle, let's look into adding X more chaps to our scrum.

But it should be the Team's call on adding another team member and who those team members should be as the team needs to feel comfortable with the addition.

Now on timing: Retrospective is a good moment to say "This sprint we fell the lack of X or Y skills" or During planning "To get those US's done we need X and Y who we do not have on the team"

That is theory talk... In practice he who holds the budget usually makes the call.


In an ideal Scrum world you don't need people, you need teams. Of course, the reality is different. Your Scrum Master is right, it is not his responsibility, but he must be part of the discussion. Your Product Owner is also right, because it not his responsibility either. His responsibility is to deliver and when this act is at risk, he should something about it. Until the change in the team setup doesn't affects this, he should be fine with the change. It seems that it is nobody's responsibility. This is one of the flaws in Scrum. The created gap between development and management, left these issues open.

However, I tend to see a quite good solution to this problem: the line manager, the project manager, the product owner and the scrum master sits together and the situation. When they have an understanding, they ask for the team's proposal, and make a decision together.


Who is responsible for changing the composition of the Scrum team?

I would call a meeting and invite

  • team leads (both teams)
  • Product Owner
  • Project Manager
  • Scrum Master
  • Architect

Since this change might affect other projects, these people should have their chance to participate in the discussion.


The manager, product owner and scrum master should sit together and discuss this with you as a start to understand where you are coming from.

The product owner should have their backlog handy, the scrum master should have burn-downs handy and the manager should have an understand of budget etc.

You all discuss to understand the different points of view and then most likely the manager would need to see if its financially feasible.

Then you take it to the team and let them decide.

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