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You do it, you own it.

Anyone who has been trained by us or coached by us has heard this statement. I’m not sure if we stole it from someone else – the possibility is high (apologies for not crediting!).


The next time you find yourself complaining about someone – think of this statement. Are you doing something that you expect that person to then own?  Here is a simple example:

Are you a ScrumMaster who updates the task board to keep it up to date and neat?

Who is the board for? The team. What is the board for? The team to get on the same page and see if they are on track to meet their commitment. So who should be updating the board? The team. You do it, you own it.

I find myself thinking about this statement every time I’m annoyed by someone not doing something I expect. Most times I am the cause of my problem. I am the one that needs to step back to allow that person to step up. And that person is not going to step up automatically. They have probably come to expect you will be doing something. You need to let them know you are not doing it anymore and that it is their responsibility. And then you might need to remind them (not force them).

Recently I was upset with my gardener. He seemed to do nothing without me giving him detailed instructions, and on the days I didn’t he would just leave early. I sat him down and explained that I don’t want to give him detailed instructions, he needs to see my garden as his own and maintain it. I stepped back. And he owned it. Oddly enough, friends of mine who use this same gardener are still complaining that they need to micro-manage him. I told them my story, but they are unwilling to let go. I guess all change takes time.

What are you owning that you shouldn’t be? How can you let go?

Remember: You do it, you own it.