Should a Product Owner Attend Retrospectives?

The short answer is YES.

The Product Owner is part of the Team

The Product Owner is part of the team, and should be involved in any discussions about improving things. A scrum team will never reach its maximum potential if only the developers discuss areas to improve.

The first question I would ask is are you inviting him?

If the answer is no, then what is the reason? If the answer is no, then why is he not attending?

You are not inviting the Product Owner

The Product Owner should definitely be invited. If you are not inviting them then you should assess why that is.

You might feel that he is not part of the team because he reports to a different part of the organisation. You might feel that the product owner doesn’t have the technical knowledge to be part of those discussions.

Probably most concerning of all to me, some probably don’t want the product team to listen so some of the details on how they have worked.

If your Product Manager is not part of the team, then this is an obstacle that you need to overcome, and something that should probably be addressed in the Retrospective. You need to identify where this idea or culture comes from and change it.

Product Owners are not usually known for their technical details, often they don’t care how things are don’t and just want to see the results. In this scenario, its an opportunity for the development team to educate the Product Owner. Try to teach them technical details, and the importance of participating in the process end-to-end. When this happens I guarantee that you will see improvements in your delivery.

If you have asked your self these questions, and you have identified that you don’t want your Product Owner to attend, then there is probably some trust issues. The development team and the Product Owner need to have complete trust. This is the only way that you can deliver to maximum capacity. If this is the case then you need to slowly ease the Product Owner into the Retrospectives and discuss any issues.

The Product Owner isn’t Attending

In the situation where the Product Owner is inviting and not attending, then this also needs to be investigated.

If he doesn’t have the time, then he probably needs to be coached on the importance of being part of the meeting. If its trust issues, again these need to be addressed.

The Product Owner might not feel he needs to attend, again, this comes down to coaching them on the importance.


In summary, you need to identify the reason the Product Owner is not attending and address it. Work towards it as a team. You might not be able to address all issues at the same time, but have a plan in place and make sure everyone is involved. You will solve your issues eventually, and when you do you will see how much more successful you will become as a Scrum team.

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One reply on “Should a Product Owner Attend Retrospectives?”

  • Colin McIntosh
    May 25, 2021 at 12:05 am

    Good article, and I agree that the PO is part of the team and has a different perspective that should at least be heard. Don’t expect the PO to be a technical expert, but not everything that needs to be improved is technical!

    Can I suggest you look at the way you have been specific about the gender, assuming the Product Owner is male. Perhaps using the term “they” rather than “he/his” would be a bit more inclusive ?