THE PRODUCT OWNER (PO)

(This definition is based on the November 2017 version of the Scrum Guide, available at – https://scrumguides.org/scrum-guide.html)

The Product Owner is a tech-savvy entrepreneur who maximizes the value stakeholders get from the product. No single person can do this alone. However, the PO is one person, not a committee. The PO must respectfully listen to many people, some of whom may sit on a committee. But at the end of the day, the PO makes the final decision and is held accountable to maximize value for the organization. So, one of the most important qualifications for an effective Product Owner is understanding how to own and centralize the strategic, big-picture decisions, while delegating and de-centralizing the tactical execution to the lowest possible level.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

Typical areas of Product Ownership are listed below. The PO should not try to do everything that needs to be done single-handedly. A Professional Scrum Product Owner respectfully requests for help and advice from others as needed and owns making major decisions.

  • DEFINE PRODUCT STAKEHOLDERS: Work with team members to define the most important people who will benefit from the product. This will likely include the product users, product buyers, regulators, and investors.
  • DEFINE PRODUCT VISION: Create a simple, clear vision that inspires and aligns the delivery team towards a true north that they are traveling towards.
  • DEFINE PRODUCT VALUE: Work with stakeholders to define what value means to the organization. Value might vary over time and typically includes business outcomes like EBITDA, free-cash flow, revenue, profit, number of engaged customers, customer satisfaction, regulatory compliance.
  • DEFINE MEASURES OF VALUE: Define lag and lead measures that can be used to objectively determine if the product is delivering value to the organization.
  • FORECAST MEASURABLE TARGETS: Forecast measurable targets for lag and lead indicators.
  • LISTEN TO STAKEHOLDERS: Regularly reach out to key stakeholders to understand their needs and solicit feedback on how to improve the product.
  • ANALYZE THE MARKET: Regularly analyze trends in the market including competitors, regulatory changes, industry changes, changes in user preferences, emerging trends and any other factors that impact the value delivered by the product.
  • DEFINE PRODUCT STRATEGY: Define and communicate a simple, achievable strategy
  • GENERATE IDEAS: Collaborate with stakeholders and team members to crowd-source the best ideas to increase product value.
  • SELECT IDEAS: Rank the ideas competing for investment and select the ones that are most likely to maximize value.
  • CLARIFY: Collaborate with the everyone who needs to deliver the idea to ensure they understand the intent and success criteria of each idea they will be working on.
  • FORECAST: Collaborate with stakeholders and delivery team members to help estimate ideas that need to be delivered and forecast likely delivery dates.
  • COLLABORATE: Regularly collaborate with the delivery team and provide feedback as they convert ideas into product enhancements.
  • TELL THE PRODUCT STORY: Explain the why behind the product to key stakeholders including users, buyers, regulators, analysts, partners, internal stakeholders, and team members who deliver, support, and maintain the product.
  • MONITOR PRODUCT VALUE: Use market data to compare and contrast the actual value with the target value to discover what is and is not working.
  • ADJUST PRODUCT DELIVERY: Collaborate with stakeholders and delivery team members to adjusting future releases based on market driven insights.

ATTRIBUTES:

An effective product owner must be able to use their actions (not words) to demonstrate how they have exhibited these qualities…

  • EMPATHETIC: Ability to understand the needs of stakeholders, especially users, customers, and investors.
  • SERVICE ORIENTED: Ability to fulfill the unmet needs of stakeholders.
  • MARKET EXPERTISE: Ability to maximize value by applying deep knowledge of the market – buyers, users, regulators, investors, competitors, market trends.
  • ENTREPRENEURIAL: Ability to make value-based decisions in the face of insufficient, ambiguous, and conflicting information.
  • QUANTITATIVE: Ability to build quantitative models to forecast value.
  • HUMBLE: Ability to accept that no one person has all the answers and that none of us is smarter than all of us. Ability to ask for help in service of maximizing value.
  • RESPECTFUL: Ability to respect and trust others as capable, independent professionals who come to work with the sincere intent of making a difference.
  • CURIOUS: Ability to explore the most meaningful questions in service of maximizing value.
  • EMPIRICAL: Ability to use market-based data to learn and course correct in service of maximizing value.
  • COURAGEOUS: Ability to speak truth to power, to be open about challenges, to focus on the most valuable ideas and to commit to doing whatever is needed in service of maximizing value.

OTHER QUALIFICATIONS:

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