Oct. 28, 2011

Tips and Tricks for the beginning Product Owner

Envision a vision for a better PO I want to point out that a vision is a necessity. The Product Owner is not going to do a good job without one. Th...

Envision a vision for a better PO

I want to point out that a vision is a necessity. The Product Owner is not going to do a good job without one. The product vision is not part of the Scrum framework. Nonetheless it is often mentioned in the Scrum literature as something that is a prerequisite.

In my experience, most companies lack a vision for their products. On rare occasions,  there existed a product vision, but it led a gloomy existance in a dusty drawer.

A good product vision is short, concise, broad, understandable and most important - engaging! With a good vision in place, everybody in the company will be aligned to the same goal.

Make it clear what you build, what your target audience is, what is the single uncompromiseable feature and what are other features that distinguish your product from your competitors'. Make every sentence and word matter, not longer than an abstract. The book from Geoffrey Moore "Crossing the Chasm" is a great source to learn how to write a vision statement properly.

Why is the product vision a vital tool and not just a toy for esoteric trainers? Imagine the perfect Product Owner. She has the authority to substitute the customer directly when facing the development team when a question arises. This can be accomplished if she has a very good relationship with the customer and knows his wishes, the product and the environment very well. - Even without a product vision. 

Now imagine that this Product Owner has more than just one customer. She would need a split personality with a shared knowledge and understanding. And the stiuation gets even worse with three or more customers. And now keep in mind that building a product does not just mean to fulfill the customers‘ wishes. It is about building a product with many other stakeholders like development and marketing as well as juggling with internal requirements and restrictions.

The product vision is the shield for the Product Owner. Many dysfunctions in companies arise because there is no product vision. The common tragedy that follows is that many opportunistic moves undermine the product integrity. The product loses its identity. Nobody knows anymore what makes it stand out, what makes it different, marketing does not know what to advertise about the product, developers are not proud of their product anymore and stop taking care of it. In the end you have a bunch of people who try to hold it all together until there is no more money to squeeze out. The end of the product life cycle is reached. The vision is the tool to align the goals of all stakeholders and allow the Product Owner to challenge and also motivate the team. 

So help yourself and the team and forge the tool you need to motivate and keep the integrity of the product instead of whining because it all falls apart.

Image of fivancsich

Franz Ivancsich

blog comments powered by Disqus
Image of fivancsich

Franz Ivancsich

Latest Posts

Mike Freislich on the inevitability of change

Video of Mike Freislich interview with Klaus Leopold on the Lean Business Agility podcast

Image of abragad

Alessio Bragadini

Web community manager of agile42, trying to post relevant, informational, fun bits of content on the blog and social networks

Agile Portfolio Management in it-daily.net

A new article in German magazine it-daily.net

Image of marion

Marion Eickmann

I am one of the founders of agile42. Even though I am not an engineer I consider myself almost a "Techi" as I have been working in the field of software development for 10 years now.

Why Agile Transformations Fail – Do You Fall Into The Same Pitfalls?

Insights from TAC2017: Why do agile transformations fail? Identify whether your team or organization falls into the same pitfalls.

Image of hwong

Hazel Wong

Marketing Assistant at agile42. Passionate about gaining insights from data in order to create content that resonates with the audience. Eager to help teams and companies open their mindset about the application of agile methods to address their challenges.

Sponsoring Let's Test South Africa

Let's Test South Africa 2017 sponsored by agile42

Image of joperold

Joanne Perold

Agile Coach in South Africa. Explorer, learner, experiencer, part time philosopher, working with teams and organisations to be more agile.

Niels Verdonk, new Certified Scrum Trainer in the Netherlands

Niels Verdonk has qualified as a Scrum Alliance Certified Scrum Trainer

Image of andreat

Andrea Tomasini

I am an Agile Coach and Trainer and I am helping customers all around the world to become more Agile. I am more and more keen on adopting adaptive emergent approaches to improve people's quality of life. Through an holistic and pragmatic approach - I consider Lean and Agile very powerful frameworks - it is possible to improve results, performance and also personal satisfaction.