I have noticed that many Product Managers and Product Owners like to participate in the Daily Scrums or stand-up meetings. Some companies have this almost as an unwritten policy for product managers and/or product owners to be part of these meetings that were never intended for them to participate in.
The Scrum Guide states the following:
“The Daily Scrum is a 15-minute event for the Developers of the Scrum Team. To reduce complexity, it is held at the same time and place every working day of the Sprint. If the Product Owner or Scrum Master are actively working on items in the Sprint Backlog, they participate as Developers.”
The Daily Scrum was meant for Developers to give each other an idea of the work they had done the day before and their plans for the day in progress. It was never meant for Product Managers or Product Owners to be part of them unless they are taking part of the work in the actual product by working on Sprint Backlog Items.
If Product Owners are present without taking items from the Sprint Backlog, it frustrates Developers because they cannot communicate with each other as they are being “observed” or “supervised”. This event is supposed to be only for Developers almost as a closed meeting for “Developers only” to plan their day. As soon as a Product Owner appears in the meeting, it becomes a meeting where they are reporting to management. It is even worse if the Product Manager starts asking questions about the status of items in the Sprint Backlog because that is not the place to do it.
As a Developer, it is impossible to know everything, and asking questions within the team is part of daily life in Software Development. However, it is difficult to communicate with your team because you can be judged by what you say and taken out of context by those that are not part of the Developers. For instance, if you ask a question about how to improve the loading of a page, other developers are happy to assist you in finding the best solution possible. Nevertheless, a Product Owner might see this as a lack of knowledge even though everybody does it and it is part of being a team player.
When you are a Product Owner, you are part of the Scrum Team but not a Developer. Your work should be concentrated on ways to improve the product and communicate with stakeholders. If Developers need you, they will contact you to clarify Product Backlog items or features based on your experience and communication with customers and management.
Self-management is one crucial keyword in the Scrum Guide because as professionals, Developers should ask questions when needed and be left alone to concentrate on the actual work which is very demanding. Also, a self-managing team should be trusted to make the right decisions for a better product. It is better to let the Developers be themselves and work out their differences and not spy on them during the Daily Scrums. Also, one of the main purposes of Scrum is transparency because you can see the progress towards the Sprint Goal (there are tools for that) without having developers detail to you the status of each item. Trusting the Developers is essential for any team to perform to their best instead of interfering with their daily stand-up meeting looking for answers. Therefore, it is better to be available to developers when they need you instead of being available when they don’t want you.