Finding awesome product owners
They're kind of like unicorns.
We were having particular trouble with the product ownership on a project and I wanted to create some training on what you want in a good product owner. Henrik Knibergs video is brilliant and I use it regularly, but then I came up with the 5 A’s to an awesome product owner below:
Ability - Is able to be the voice of the customer. They actually have expertise/experience in that area. Trap: Promoting a junior person into this role that doesn't understand the customer needs.
Authority - Empowered to make decisions on a day to day basis. Trap: A proxy Product owner who is put in place but is not empowered to make decisions. This introduces a lot of waste into your cycle
Autonomous - One single "owner". I've seen examples where this is not the case but they are rare and require maturity. Trap: A committee where the decision rights are not clear.
Available - There on a day to day basis to work with the team. Trap: Having the right person that has all the other traits but is too senior to support the team day to day.
Adaptable - Flexible to changing situations and environments. Trap: Taking existing product managers that just want to hand over a requirements document and anointing them as PO.
Whilst there’s only 5 traits – finding them in the one person at a large organisation can be ridiculously hard. The person with authority usually isn’t available. The person with the ability may not be adaptable enough to work in an agile way. In a large fragmented business, it may be hard to find someone with sufficient autonomy.
No one said this would be easy…