Too Busy

Too Busy
Intent
: Ignore your duties as a stakeholder in order to perform other activities that you consider more pressing

Proverbs: It's not about having time, it's about making time; if you don’t make time for your wife, someone else will

Also Known As: Absentee Product Owner, Assigned Product Owner

Motivation: Key stakeholders often have responsibilities that span multiple teams (e.g. Product Owners, senior designers, and architects). If they do not value a team’s product or service particularly highly, they may be tempted to abdicate or defer their stakeholder duties in order to give other matters their attention.

Structure: A stakeholder in the product (such as a Product Owner or architect) fails to liaise with the team at a critical time. During an iteration in which one or more of items with a stakeholder dependency are drawn from the Product Backlog and planned into the team’s Sprint Backlog, the stakeholder’s input will be needed so that the increment can be delivered. However, the stakeholder abdicates this responsibility in order to perform unrelated activities.

Applicability: Clear product ownership (and sometimes technical direction) can be difficult to establish, especially when products or services affect multiple stakeholders or cross organizational boundaries (e.g. middleware components). Each stakeholder may believe they have higher priorities outside of the team and its work. The strategic importance of the product or service may only be apparent if such weak stakeholders are viewed in aggregate. This can result in product ownership and/or architectural duties being assigned to managers who do not have a sufficient level of individual interest in the outcome, and who consequently do not afford their role the time it deserves.

Consequences: If the stakeholder does not provide the assistance expected, dependent backlog items may not be completed as per their acceptance criteria. The Sprint Goal may be put at risk and an increment of functionality might not be delivered. Alternatively, the team may try to negotiate the impediment by consulting with other stakeholders instead. The interests of such stakeholders may not coincide with those of the absentee, whose own interests might thus become compromised.

Implementation
: In many organizations product ownership or architectural authority is vested in senior managers. These managers can be stakeholders in multiple concerns that are in progress or being planned. They may not be sufficiently interested in a particular project to afford it the time that the role demands.