Product Owner Prelude

October 24, 2013

Since implementing my first Scrum framework in 2008, I have seen no other role on a Scrum team be more inadequately staffed than that of the product owner.  I’ve watched  marketing managers, IT business analysts, project managers, and even a CMO within an organization stand in as a product owner.

Each person in those traditional roles brought their unique set of positive attributes to the table and added as much value as they could.  Unfortunately, all too often, companies try to force a square peg into a round hole when it comes to staffing the all important product owner role.

The product owner is central (literally and figuratively) to the success of a Scrum Framework implementation.  I haveProduct Owner Pig or Chicken never seen the ability to split the focus of a product owner and be successful.  The product owner must be 100% dedicated to the role.  If a company puts the wrong skill set in that role, the risk of product failure grows exponentially.

The product owner is an innovative, versatile role that fuses the accountability and influence traditionally scattered across separate roles.  The product owner not only breaths life into new products, they manage the growth stages throughout the life of that product.

Before staffing your next product owner role, in addition to ensuring the person meets the core product owner competencies, review this list of responsibilities.  These functions must be successfully completed with the highest level of accountability and influence.  Choose your product owner wisely.

In my next post, I’ll examine the nuances of successfully grooming the product backlog and the product owner’s role in that success.  In several upcoming posts, I’ll share my experience, personal stories, and expertise in the other areas listed.

It’s important to note that the product owner doesn’t work in a silo. They are an essential member of the Scrum team and work in cooperation with the stakeholders.  They all work in concert to continually groom the product backlog.  The product owner is, however, the single wring-able neck responsible for the success of the product.


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