During the first Sprint (or iteration), the project usually has enough in the budget for the Product Owner to actually tell the team they can have some food. As any geek knows, food can be a great motivator. The usual pattern for the first time a Scrum Team can actually order food is like receving manna from heaven to a six-year-old. Twizzlers abound. Milk-duds appear as often as a simple Costco run. Potato Chips — the good ones — Pringles — appear to prove that yes in fact, you cannot just eat one.
A great Product Owner funds food. Say it withe me now. Repeat this oftern. Past the first Sprint.
However, as the first Sprint is over, the Scrum Team realizes that — yikes — their belts are getting a little tighter. The six-year-old mentality then starts to turn back to adults around the end of Sprint 3. All of the sudden, instead of Twizzlers and Milk-duds, the team is asking for “healthier” stuff. Trips to the grocery store begin and all the sudden fruit appears, along with veggie trays (with lots of high-fat dips!) and the “low carb” crappy chocolate.
Now, usually by the third or fourth Sprint, the Product Owner starts to take budgetary heat from the outside noise. Man, stakeholders have short memories. Corporate cards have been known to disappear like Brittney and her marraiges. This means food becomes scarce for the team. Let the scrounging begin.
O Product Owners — who, by the way are on the outside of this strip egging on Chicken and Pig to eat — unfortunately show how incredibly cheap they can become when a team is actually producing. Bad things can happen here, as food is now expected by the Scrum Team but nothing shows up to provide for said team. If the food flow stops now, expect the Scrum Team to start seeing dead people. Really. It is that damn scary.
I have a question to you cheap-ass-Product-Owners. Have you ever seen the movie where the plane crashed and people were eaten? I am pretty damn sure those inconsciounable people who actually ate the others were those very tasty Product-Owners. And the rest of the team survived (OK, maybe with a toe missing, but c’mon!). Scary. Think about that.
I do work with teams that, during each Sprint Review and Sprint Planning Session, the Product Owner steps up and makes sure a celebration is had. This can be something as simple as bringing in burgers to something as cheesy as the CheeseCake factory. With Desserts. And know that the two “ss”‘s in Dessert is a huge difference than leaving your team out in the desert by not giving them jack.
Product Owners. Be responsible and stay alive. Otherwise Darwin will prove its existence. Comprende?
And guess what…. because I have personally seen this…. the Product Owners that keep their teams well fed see a performance increase many time what the actual “food” cost for the team.
What’s my closing message this week?
Product Owners…. talk to the team members and see what motivates them. Food is an easy kill and also easier to be pound-wise then penny-foolish. You make the call though, and, as Product Owner, hope you are not taking a plane trip across the Andes with them anytime soon. As others found out (in a tasty way from the team), your role as Product Owner can easily be replaced with another who brings food.
I want to thank Mark P. for the metric analogy this week… as well deserved as it was to start, I take responsibility to where it ended!
November 20, 2006