Responsibility in Scrum

The Developers

The developers hold each other accountable as professionals whilst progressing towards the sprint goal. They are commited to achieving that goal and also instilling the notion of quality by adhering to the definition of done.

The Product Owner

They are responsible for communicating the product goal to the entire organization, making the product backlog tranparent and understandable and above all for maximizing the value delivered in each sprint.

The Scrum Master

Amongst the different responsibilities of the Scrum Master, they should accompany the Scrum Team in being self-sufficient, remove any and all obstacles in the way of the sprint goal and make sure that the Scrum events take place.


I listened to a great podcast that talked about Chris Avery’s model of responsability (

1. Denial

We ignore the existence of something. You pretend like nothing has happened.

2. Lay blame

We admit that something has happened, but we immediately lay blame on someone else.
I find that this is often where most developers are. They use Git Blame, they blame other team members, former colleagues or maybe a third party that has worked on the application.
In my team, the Product Owner often shoulds the blame as he didn’t write the JIRA ticket correctly…

3. Justification

We accept the fact that there is a problem, we don’t look for someone to blame, but the situation itself is to blame.
It’s not my fault, it’s the application’s, it’s crappy old legacy code. It’s the browser. It’s my computer…

4. Shame

We admit that we are at fault for the issue.
I didn’t think the task through correctly…

5. Obligation

Something has happened and we are obliged to fix it.
I must / I have to fix that bug, oh God, it’s going to be a right pain in the bum.

6. Responsability

Being proactive, this is not a dead-end, we take an active part in fixing the issue because we want to do it (without moaning). This cannot be instilled and can only come from the person.

The three keys


The intention to take responsability when things go pear-shaped. Responsible people see problems as opportunities to improve things.


Being aware of your current mental state can help you. If you’re having a bad day, take a moment before replying to the email.


Confronting yourself (honestly) to see what you can do to learn, correcr or improve


I presented these ideas to my team a few weeks ago in the hope that we would have a greater sense of teamwork and would stop pointing the finger at others. Our team manager has seen a noticeable change in the behaviour of the team since this talk. There’s a bit less moaning, more just doing and there’s definitely a lot less finger pointing.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Neil Appleton

Neil Appleton

I’m a Senior Frontend Developer and newly certified Scrum Master. I love learning new things!!