Shifting My Mindset from Scrum Master to Product Owner

I started out my 2022 year as the Scrum Master, like I have been since 2019, focused on making sure the team was happy, helped with impediments, and as my enneagram personality, always made sure I helped in any degree I could. Little did I know then how my Agile journey would progress during the year!


First, I better back up and start from the beginning. When I joined the DH Leonard Consulting family (yes, I say family as I feel the last four years as being just that, a family) in January of 2019, I walked into the office excited for my new journey, and Diane said, “let me show you how we work in this organization,” and my Scrummy journey began. 


Yes, I was overwhelmed, as you may be too as you read this; there’s a lot to Scrum – the 3-5-3, the Scrum Guide, the tools, the potential mind shift, and most importantly, teamwork. But even though I was overwhelmed, it took me all of 24 hours to turn to Diane and say, “How does anyone else work any other way?” 


Just a few months later, I formally became the Scrum Master of the Marketing and Training Team; a year later, I took the credential exam through Scrum, Inc. and became a Registered Scrum Master. I was hooked. To this day, Diane likes to put me on the spot during presentations so I can share my thoughts on how I can never go back to working any other way than utilizing the Scrum framework, and I proudly say it. 


Over the past four years, I’ve supported Diane in training hundreds of nonprofit professionals to learn about Agile and implement Scrum, along with specializing in helping everyone become the best Scrum Masters they can be. 


A Scrum Master is ultimately in charge of team happiness, collaboration, helping solve impediments, and protecting the team members. Sound like you? Check out the next upcoming Scrum Master course; you won’t regret it. 


Back to this year. As we worked on the 2022 goals for the year, Diane asked me if I would be interested in becoming the Product Owner for the Marketing & Training Team. Of course, I said yes. 


As the 2022 year progressed, I took courses, webinars, read blogs, and attended the Registered Product Owner course (lucky me, Diane was the trainer!). When it came time to take on my new role officially, I was left with one giant question I had never thought of until that day, how on earth do I take off my Scrum Master hat and replace it with the Product Owner hat? 


The good news is we highlight the difference in roles in our trainings, but how do you change your mindset? That’s where our coaching services and community of practice have been so helpful during this year’s journey. As my peers in the courses and community members have been so generous in sharing their experiences, I wanted to share my personal experience with shifting the mindset and becoming a work in progress as a Registered Product Owner. 


On my first day as acting Product Owner, I stepped back during Daily Scrum and allowed the new Scrum Master to facilitate. That was easier than I expected, but it allowed me to quickly focus on thinking like the Product Owner and combing through the product backlog to make sure backlog items were in priority order, that will best serve the product goal, “easy” enough (I use the team loosely as it’s an important task) and everything started falling into place. I knew as the Product Owner, I needed to take one more step in my previous work and speak with the stakeholders, the clients, and/or the customers on a regular basis. Marketing ideas are now more of the big organizational thought related to vision instead of waiting for others to come to you with a vision. 


It felt muddy at first, and still only a few months into my new role, some days it still feels “clear as mud,” but as I continue to learn, ask questions, and practice the Product Owner duties, the mindset shift gets easier. I find that I am no longer worried about the team happiness and impediments since my fellow Scrum Master will bring those to my attention when I am needed; rather, I am now worried about the stakeholders, backlog, and supporting the team in understanding the value we will deliver together. 


Ultimately, the DH Leonard Consulting “family” isn’t a hierarchy; it’s a way of working together to reach the end goal of creating twice the impact in half the time at a sustainable pace. 


But really, HOW can anyone work any other way than utilizing Agile? 


Interested in learning more about Agile? We have released the 2023 schedule of Agile Basics for Nonprofits – your first step into understanding the umbrella of Scrum. 


Want to dive right into the Scrum framework? Check out the upcoming courses of Scrum Basics for Nonprofits


I hope to see you in one of our courses in 2023. If you have any questions about my journey or your own, please reach out