A completed run of the game


Timing: 15 minutes to run, 30 minutes to prepare (once only).


  • 32 Index Cards of one colour (I choose blue).
  • 7 Index Cards of another colour (I choose pink).
  • A permanent marker pen (i.e. sharpie).
  • Two flip chart pieces of paper (A0 size) or large pieces of butcher’s paper.
  • A very large desk or two desks large enough to hold the two pieces of paper.



This game quickly builds understanding of the subtleties of the Scrum roles and responsibilities. Once you have prepared the cards (in the preparation instructions) you can easily repeat this game at a very low set up cost.



Split each piece of paper into three equal sized sections and label each section: Team, Scrum Master, Product Owner. You will be able to keep and reuse these pieces of paper for numerous instances of the game.


Write out the two sets of index cards

Blue cards (Primary Responsibility)

  • Ensure Quality
  • Attend Sprint Planning
  • Attend Sprint Planning
  • Attend Sprint Planning
  • Attend Sprint Review
  • Attend Sprint Review
  • Attend Sprint Review
  • Attend Daily Standup
  • Attend Daily Standup
  • Attend Sprint Retrospective
  • Attend Sprint Retrospective
  • Attend Backlog Grooming
  • Attend Backlog Grooming
  • Attend Backlog Grooming
  • Design
  • Build
  • Test
  • Integrate software
  • Deploy
  • Improve process
  • Improve technical practices
  • Prioritise Product backlog
  • Talk to stakeholders
  • Track progress of the sprint
  • Make Product Backlog visible to all
  • Create Product backlog items
  • Resolve Technical impediments
  • Resolve organisational impediments
  • Facilitate Scrum events
  • Ensure Scrum rules are followed
  • Coach team
  • Track progress of the release



Pink cards (Secondary Responsibility)

  • Attend Sprint Retrospective
  • Ensure Quality
  • Ensure Quality
  • Attend daily standup
  • Create product backlog items
  • Improve process
  • Improve technical practices



How to run the game

For six to twelve people

Split group into two teams of three to six people each.

Hand each group a set of index cards, asking them to shuffle them and evenly spread them out among the group.

Place one prepared sheet of paper in front of each team.

Ask them to take 2 minutes in silence to place their index cards against the role that is responsible for the items listed on each index card. Explain that there are some duplicated items. Some the duplicated items have Primary(blue) cards and Secondary(pink) cards. Meaning that some the roles carry more/or less responsibility for that item.

After placing the index cards the teams now have 5 minutes to gain consensus as a team about the placement of the cards. They should discuss items that they disagree with within their team.

After the teams are comfortable with their placement (you will be able to tell as the conversation will die off) ask them to swap tables and review the other teams work. When they find any placements that they disagree with they should calmly discuss this with the other team.


Learning Points:

Often the teams will come to appropriate conclusions through the discussions that they hold as they find cards that they disagree with. However as facilitator you should watch out for situations where they jump to incorrect conclusion or where they miss out on misplaced cards.

One of the regular points that come up during this game is that the Scrum Master does not solve all of the team’s problems / fix their process. The team needs to step up and do this, however the Scrum Master is responsible for making it happen.

15 thoughts on “Scrum Roles and Responsibilities Game

  1. Tim,

    Thanks for the reference. Those cards look very interesting and I can see how you can incorporate some of those into the game.



  2. Hi Andrew,
    Thanks for publishing the game description!
    I used this exercise for over five years as mechanics is very simple. Of course, we always can play around cards itself and so have the endless variants for the game.

    What I found useful is to use in this exercises some cards from Agile Topic Cards (from Crisp guys) http://blog.crisp.se/2015/10/08/jimmyjanlen/agile-topics-card-deck

    I simply pulled out some topic cards with pictures/subjects very similar to what you listed in your game description. With images, this game becomes even more useful and engaging.


  3. Hey Andrew, many thanks for the game! I’m gonna use it to increase my team’s ownership consciousness. We currently have many issues, which can’t be solved by PO or SM. This game is perfect as an illustration.

  4. In Scrum the Developers (the team) are responsible for HOW the delivery occurs, the Product Owner is responsible for WHAT to deliver. The Scrum Master is responsible for helping everyone to do their part better.

    Improving Technical Practices relates to HOW delivery occurs, hence it is a primary concern of the team, secondary concern of the Scrum Master and not really a concern of the Product Owner.

    It sounds like your Development Managers have responsibility of WHAT and HOW. Scrum is designed to separate these concerns.

  5. Why is improve technical practices (secondary responsibility) listed in scrum masters responsibility? In my organisation development manager plays role of PO so I thought it will be his secondary responsibility. However, would like to hear your take.

  6. I recently did this across two Scrum teams with my fellow Scrum Master and it worked really well. Although we slightly adapted it.

    1) We created a Venn diagram to avoid having duplicates amongst single coloured items; with the Scrum Team in the middle.
    2) We also created four extra areas for each of the four Scrum events and had different coloured items for those events.
    NB I did want to have a True/False section but felt it was too much, i.e. “The Scrum Guide advocates the use of post-it notes : FALSE’

    3) The format was as follows:
    – Silent placement
    – Discussion and move (any disagreements as to placement go with the majority but mark the card)
    – Leave a couple of representatives behind and otherwise switch groups.
    – Have further discussion but don’t move anything.
    – Switch back to original groups for further discussion (any disagreements as to placement go with the majority but mark the card)
    – Teams come together for a debrief with the SMs

    By the way the following are the cards we used (sorry for the long list) for the roles:

    Ensure Quality
    Attend Daily Stand Up
    Integrate Software
    Improve Technical Practices
    Track Progress of the Sprint
    Resolve Technical Challenges
    Create Sprint Backlog
    Decides which tasks the DT members should work on during the Sprint
    Decides how to turn the Sprint Backlog into an increment of potentially releasable functionality
    Determines the number of PBIs to take into the Sprint
    Responsible for conducting the Daily Scrum
    Can modify the Sprint Backlog during a Sprint
    Estimate the size of a PBI
    Estimate the size of a task (Sprint Backlog Item)
    Demonstrates in the Sprint Review work ‘Done’ during the Sprint
    Attend Sprint Planning
    Attend Sprint Review
    Attend Sprint Retrospective
    Attend Backlog Grooming
    Accountable For Not Meeting The Sprint Goal
    Decides how & when refinement is done
    Prioritise Product Backlog
    Accountable for the Product Backlog
    Decides whether to release the increment of potentially releasable functionality
    Has authority to cancel a Sprint
    Prioritise Product Backlog
    Make Product Backlog Visible to All
    Create Product Backlog Items
    Track Progress of the Release
    Defines the AC for each PBI
    Answers questions about PBIs
    Explains during the Sprint Review what has and has not been ‘Done’ during the Sprint
    Ensures that Scrum Events take place
    Resolve Organisational Impediments
    Facilitate Scrum Events
    Ensure Scrum Rules Are Followed
    Finds techniques for effective Product Backlog management
    Coach Team
    Improve Process
    Acts as a leader, not a manager
    Talk to Stakeholders
    Ensure Quality
    Attend Daily Stand-up
    Create Product Backlog Items

  7. Thanks Andrew, I have been thinking aloud on games for Scrum roles and responsibilities. This has come at the right time. I will for sure try in my next training.

  8. I like this. I’ll use it in the next Scrum training I run. Previously I did something like this when the question of the role of the Project Manager came up. In that case I asked the class to brainstorm all the rings that a Project Manager did and write one thing per post-it note. While they did that I created four spaces on a wall or whiteboard each labelled with one of the three Scrum roles and the fourth as Organisation. We then went through and placed almost all post-its into one of the three roles. Occasionally a boundary case would come up – generally these were things that the Scrum Team would not do but then in most organisations the Project Manager probably wouldn’t do either. We’d talk the item through and it would either be discarded, placed into “Organisation” or sometimes we’d find a fit in the Scrum roles.
    To that end I may add in to your list a few things that people often specifically associate with Project Managers such as risk and assumption registers/logs, managing budget, etc.

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