Who Should Be Your Scrum Product Owner
Today I'm gonna talk about Who should be your Product Owner? Alright let's do this! Before we talk about who should be your Product Owner, let's talk about some of the misconceptions we often see in the market regarding the Product Owner role. There is a common misconception in the market that the Product Owner is just another name for a business analyst who writes the user stories for the development team. A lot of companies think that the Product Owner is a tactical role and only play at the Scrum team level. So that's why a lot of companies assigns the Product Owner role to the business analysts. The Product Owner is actually a strategic role. An awesome Product Owner spend 80% of his or her time at the strategic level and looking at the opportunities he or she can find in the market rather than just writing user stories for the development team. There is a common misconception in the market that the Product Owner role is the same as the project manager role, that is to ensure that the product is delivered on time, on scope and on budget.
The Product Owner is actually an entrepreneur who does a lot of experiments to test where value is located in the market. And a lot of times doing this may not result in a product that is delivered on time, on scope and on budget. Because the sole responsibility of the Product Owner is to ensure that the product is valuable and successful in the market. Because a product that is delivered on time, on scope and on budget may not necessarily valuable and successful in the market. So the Product Owner should have the entrepreneur and experimenter mindset rather than a project manager mindset. There is a common misconception that the Product Owner is not more than just a proxy for all of the stakeholders, managing all of the requests from the stakeholders. As the owner of the product at least 80% of the items in the product backlog should be initiated by the Product Owner rather than just given by the stakeholders. If 80% of the items in the product backlog are given by the stakeholders, what we have is just a proxy rather than a Product Owner. There is a common misconception that the Product Owner's job is to optimize the number of features that the development team delivers. The Product Owner is not the output maximizer. The Product Owner's job is to optimize the value out of the product. The Product Owner mindset is outcome over output. There is a misconception that the Product Owner needs to be the technical solution expert, so that is why in some companies there is a role called the Technical Product Owner who will define the technical solution and the product architecture for the development team.
The Product Owner does not need to be technical but the Product Owner needs to have empathy regarding development team challenges and also open for feedback from the development team. The technical solution expert should be part of the development team rather than become the Product Owner. Now as an example let's take a look at an imaginary company named Acme Corporation. In this company there is Alice whose title is the Head of Product. There is also Jake, Sarah and Jack who all has been given the title Product Owner from the management. So you might think in this scenario that Jake, Sarah and Jack are really Product Owners. But if in reality it's Alice who drives the strategy, owns the overall product vision, accountable for the success and the value of the product in the market, initiates 80% or more of the items in the product backlog and pushes all of these product backlog items to Jake, Sarah and Jack to be fine-tuned as a fine detail requirement for Alice, then in this scenario the actual Product Owner is actually Alice even though her title in the company is Head of Product and even though Jake, Sarah and Jack has the title Product Owner they're not really the owner of the product because they just receives requirements from Alice. So in this scenario I prefer to call Jake, Sarah and Jack as product manager. Because the manager is below the owner rather than the other way around. So from this scenario we can learn that people with the title Product Owner may not necessarily the owner of the product and on the other hand those that doesn't have the title Product Owner may actually be the real product owner. The Product Owner role is a very critical role and it's not a role that can be underestimated.
The product's success really depends on who's playing the Product Owner role. So before you select someone to be the owner of the product or the Product Owner, here are some tests that you can use to check whether someone is the right fit to be the Product Owner. The first test is about someone's authority over the product. As the owner of the product, the Product Owner has full authority over the product that will improve the products value in the market. Therefore everyone in the organization including the senior management should trust and respect the Product Owner's decision over the product. So before you assign someone to be the owner of the product, ask yourself whether everyone in the organization, including the senior management, will be able to trust and respect this person's decision over the product. If everyone within the organization, including the senior management and those with highest political power, cannot trust and respect the person's decision over the product and will likely override this person's decision over the product most of the time, we will not have a Product Owner we will only have a product proxy. The next test is about someone skills and accountability. As the Product Owner needs to be accountable for the value of the product and the success of the product in the market, choose someone who is entrepreneurial, strategic and visionary to be your Product Owner. The third test is about someone's personality. The Product Owner needs to be open-minded and be collaborative, especially with the development team. A lot of Product Owners who have been given such a high authority become so authoritative and not collaborative with the development team. It's very important for the Product Owner to be collaborative and partner with the development team so both can deliver high quality product and valuable products to the market.
Product Owners need to be open-minded because a lot of times development team will ask the Product Owner to fix the technical debt in the product first before moving on to developing new features. So that is all from me today folks. I hope you found today's video helpful to help you understand the role of Product Owner and to help you select who should be your Product Owner in organization.