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Q: Is the user story assigned to the scrum master for tracking purposes only? Should we assign a user story to a person who is neither a scrum master nor a project manager?
Author Darrell Rigby responds: Thank you for raising such important issues. The short answer to your latter question is that while theoretically any work assignment could be turned into a user story and assigned to anyone, when user stories require innovative solutions and when what or how to deliver are vague and unpredictable, they should go to the product owner of an Agile team. On your first question, it is not common practice to give scrum masters tracking responsibilities only. Agile teams are self-managing.
Not every innovation needs to be owned by an Agile team, but when Agile is the right approach, it is up to the business owner to build a compelling shared ambition, determine the business priorities and define the objectives for innovation initiatives. They decide what work should be done and where, they empower teams, and they ensure the adoption of the teams’ innovations. Product owners set the vision for the team, build and refine the backlog, and collect input from customers and key stakeholders. Scrum masters teach team members how to operate in an Agile fashion, remove barriers and accelerate progress. Development team members are multidisciplinary experts with the skills required to achieve the team’s mission. They are few (five to nine people), dedicated and self-managing.